Estonia - Education Strategy 2021-2035
The Estonian Education Strategy 2021–2035 (adopted in November 2021 by the Government) guides the most important developments in the area of education. It is the basis of priority setting and funding decisions, and for the development of implementation programmes that support the achievement of strategic goals. The implementation of the Education Strategy is coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Research.
The Education Strategy plays an important role in achieving the general objectives of the national long-term development plan Estonia 2035. The strategy builds on the principle that to achieve the future goals of education in Estonia, it is necessary to maintain and further develop its strengths and to address bottlenecks.
Overall objective of the strategy is to equip the population of Estonia with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that prepare people to fulfil their potential in personal, occupational and social life and contribute to promoting the quality of life in Estonia as well as global sustainable development.
The overall objective is underpinned by three strategic goals:
1. Learning opportunities are diverse and accessible and the education system enables smooth transitions between levels and types of education.
It is necessary to: develop a comprehensive solution for taking non-formal and informal learning into account in formal education in order to give more consideration to the knowledge and skills acquired in various environments (digital environment, workplaces, youth centres and programmes, hobby schools, environmental education centres, etc.); mandate the government to create opportunities for low-skilled and low-educated adults to develop learning habits and for self-development, including digital inclusion. Digital inclusion means access to digital services as well as the relevant attitudes and skills required for using digital services.
2. Estonia has competent and motivated teachers and heads of schools, a diverse learning environment and a learner-centred approach to learning and teaching.
Educators are familiar with trends, opportunities, risks and methodologies related to new technologies, and apply the technologies in a purposeful way. Smart learning resources and methodology support captivating and effective learning and teaching, and help to give and receive immediate and substantial feedback. Essential action is personalisation and diversification of learning and supporting learning through digital solutions.
It is necessary to: promote the development and implementation of diverse methods of learning and teaching (including digital pedagogy); develop and use digital solutions as tools for educational innovation that enable the diversification and personalisation of education, including assessment for learning; raise awareness among participants in the learning process of the opportunities and risks of the information society; adopt a systematic approach to the introduction of new solutions; improve access to Estonian – language education and learning of Estonian by introducing digital solutions.
3. Learning options are responsive to the development needs of society and the labour market.
The digital content development skills in all age groups create equal opportunities for all learners and conditions for increased competitiveness. Essential action is creating a digital solution for managing individual learning pathways and careers, and for skills assessment (digital education history). As well as developing digital literacy across all age groups to increase digital inclusion and develop skills in creating information technologies.
It is necessary to: develop a digital solution for the management of individual educational paths and careers and assessment of skills (digital education history); raise awareness of the opportunities and risks of the information society and develop digital skills in all age groups for the purpose of digital involvement.
In order to achieve these objectives, the responsibilities and roles of all actors need to be clear but not rigid. It is important for everyone to notice and care, assume responsibility for the tasks they are best suited to perform, and to be willing to cooperate.
- Educators – create a development-supportive, healthy, safe and cooperative learning environment and organisational culture.
- School owners – create conditions for the proper functioning of their schools and ensure the necessary resources to maintain their schools.
- Parents – support minor learners, create conditions that are conducive to learning and contribute to school life.
- Learners – take responsibility for their education and make informed choices of their educational paths in order to acquire the knowledge, skills and abilities that will allow them to fulfil their potential and succeed in life.
- Labour market participants – contribute actively to the development of a learning system that is relevant to labour market needs, and participate in the development of curricula related to their specific areas of activity. Employers take greater responsibility for the development of education and the skills of their employees, including the provision of work-based learning and work placement opportunities.
- Civil society – acts as an important partner of the state, local governments and social partners, and participates in the strategic development of education.
- The government and local authorities – ensure a wide range of high-quality learning opportunities, accessibility and high-quality learning environments, including an optimal network of educational institutions.
The Education Strategy 2021–2035, which sets out key educational goals for the next 15 years, is the follow-up to the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020. The strategy is based on studies and analyses, vision documents prepared by experts, the Estonia 2035 Strategy, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the results of the work of the education strategy working groups, feedback and input gathered through public consultations and engagement events, and the results of the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 and its mid-term evaluation.
Digital solutions and the increasing level of digital competence have improved the accessibility, diversity and efficiency of Estonian education. General education schools and vocational schools have a high-level digital infrastructure. The Ministry of Education and Research highlights the need to continue the development of digital competences and support the diversification of learning, including through digital solutions.
In anticipation of upcoming challenges, it is important to acknowledge the wider role of education and to understand the personal, cultural and societal value of education, which was also the starting point for the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 and was emphasised in the vision documents. For individuals, education provides an opportunity to discover and develop their capacities and skills in order to become healthy and active members of society. Education helps to preserve culture, develop identity and connect the past, present and future. One of the weaknesses of Estonian society is the gap between declared and actual values, i.e. the extent to which people are guided in their daily lives by the values and beliefs accepted and agreed-upon by society. The societal value of education should be reflected in greater coherence, safety, flexibility, creativity and the regenerative capacity of society, which enable individuals to cope with a rapidly changing world, including crisis situations.
Total budget for years 2021-2035 is 25.387 million EUR: Learning opportunities and the organisation of education - 18 522 million EUR; Teachers, learning environments and approaches to learning - 6 032 million EUR; Education, society and the labour market - 833 million EUR.
The implementation of and reporting on the Strategy is supported by a broad-based steering committee. The Steering Committee is composed of representatives of the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Rural Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, the Government Office, the Estonian National Youth Council, the Estonian Language Council, the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities, the Estonian Employers’ Confederation, the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Estonian Trade Union Confederation and up to seven experts in the field.