The Centre for Ethics of the University of Tartu took part in the development of the new Estonian education strategy that was created on the basis of an agreement between the Estonian Cooperation Assembly, the Estonian Education Forum and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. The Head of the Centre for Ethics, prof. Margit Sutrop, led the education process working group.
The work done by the Centre had the most direct impact on the formulation of the first challenge of the strategy, the movement towards a development- and cooperation-based approach to studying (which also implies new roles for teachers and students). The Centre also gave a considerable contribution to the formulation of the concept of education and its aims that underlies the strategy.
The aims of education
In the education strategy, education is understood in a wide sense: the aims of education are to support personal development, guarantee uninterrupted development of national culture and contribute to the creation of the future society. Education should enable everyone to create a connection with the world and prepare one for the various roles at work, in one’s family and in the community. The aim is to increase students’ personal autonomy while at the same time helping the students to become socialised in the Estonian society.
The environment for the development
In the conditions of the globalised information society, rethinking the role of educational institution and teacher becomes a pressing need. The values that characterise the environment created by educational institutions have influence on the formation of students’— and thus in a longer perspective of the entire Estonian society’s — attitudes in the sphere of values. The personality of students, the system of students’ knowledge, norms and values develop in interaction between the students and the environment.
Teacher and student
Education process should support the development of a student into an active and self-aware subject. Accordingly, teaching no longer means simple transmission of knowledge with subsequent evaluation of its acquisition; instead, education is understood as the development of the abilities to acquire, analyse, critically evaluate and manage information. In addition to that, the task of a teacher is to support the personal development of a student and to give feedback for the learning process. The student is set at the centre of the education process, and this provides the starting point for reflection, decision making and action.
The five challenges of Estonian education
The education strategy covers the years 2012–2020. The strategy brings into focus five main challenges of Estonian education and means for addressing them:
- Moving toward a development- and cooperation-based approach to studying;
- Improving the position and image of teachers;
- Increasing participation in study;
- Strengthening the connection between education and a knowledge-based society and innovative economy;
- Developing digital culture as a part of the Estonian cultural space.