While there is political support for lowering the voting age to 16, several surveys indicate that the awareness of students about the functioning of the e-state and democracy leaves a lot to be desired and additional training for teachers should be considered.
The Ministry of Education told uudised.err.ee on Sunday that the conditions for fascinating social education classes with a practical focus are already there.
Presenting the results of a survey of the potential effects of lowering the voting age, political scientist Anu Toots said in early June that the young are quite suspicious of e-voting.
The same survey revealed that the awareness of the functioning of the e-state is also quite low among the young and they rarely use ID-card based services.
If the voting age is lowered, teachers must be given additional training, because social education classes currently tend to focus on the constitution and other formal aspects of the state, while little time is spent on practical aspects like elections and politics, Toots said at the time.
E-services should be promoted among the young more, she added, because apart from school and exam results, they rarely have the opportunities to use e-services.
Nele Leosk, program manager at the NGO E-State Academy agreed, saying that the knowledge of the young is based on their needs, which usually are limited to schoolwork, as they have no significant income to deal with, cannot vote and usually don’t sign contracts.
Leosk also agreed that the curricula could put more emphasis on e-governance and one possible solution is introducing interactive teaching materials and bringing in specialists instead of the usual route where social education is taught by history or geography teachers.
The ministry is already taking steps to make the subject more interesting, placing more emphasis on discussions and practical studies in the curriculum and adding European Union issues as a voluntary subject.