The Cultural Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) is preparing for the deliberation of vocational education as a matter of significant national importance in the plenary of the Riigikogu on 18 May. The Committee has heard the positions of several stakeholders on what the current situation and the future of vocational education is like.
“In real life, education does not recognise the barriers that make it the business of one agency or one school. And it is one of our tasks to remove such barriers,” Chairman of the Cultural Affairs Committee Aadu Must said.
Member of the Cultural Affairs Committee Krista Aru said that vocational education taught people to do something themselves. She thinks that, already in basic schools, young people should be shown what working means.
Deputy Chairman of the Estonian School Students Councils Union Mikk Tarros said that students of vocational schools did not want to see themselves as simple workers but rather as entrepreneurs. He added that the integration of entrepreneurship studies, and self management should be used in vocational education more than it had been done so far.
Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps told the Cultural Affairs Committee about the plans of financing vocational education. The Minister explained that it was planned to make the financing of vocational schools similar to the allocating of money to institutions of higher education. “Besides basic financing, it is planned to pay the vocational schools additional money for the number of graduates, and what the movement of young people in the school is like, and how good the quality indicators are,” Reps said.
During the last decade, the number of educational institutions providing vocational education has decreased by 15 schools. In this school year, 33 vocational educational institutions operate in Estonia. The network of state vocational educational institutions has continuously been reformed and smaller schools have been merged with larger vocational training centres, and the number of private vocational schools has also decreased significantly. At the moment, around 25,000 persons are acquiring vocational education. At the same time there are more than 30,000 persons in the country who have no profession and who could be sent to vocational schools.
Each year, around 5000 students discontinue their studies in vocational training. Among young people, the main reasons for discontinuing are wrong choice of profession, low motivation to study, social immaturity, but also family problems and financial problems, and conflicts with teachers or fellow students. In the case of adult students, the main problem is combining the studies with other obligations.
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