Following a challenging school year, particularly after the global coronavirus pandemic saw the entire Estonian school system switch to distance learning in mid-March, Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center) thanked students, staff and parents alike for their efforts and wished everyone a happy and refreshing summer vacation. ERR News is publishing Reps' address in full.
Dear students, dear school family, dear parents!
Summer vacation is finally here! This year, after such a peculiar and exhausting school year, many parents awaited this alongside their children.
Last fall, I said that we had a digital-crazy school year ahead. At the time, what I meant was schools' IT infrastructure being updated, smart devices reaching schools and a growing selection of digital textbooks — everything that helps modernize the learning environment. The school year did turn out to be digital-crazy, but much moreso than we could have possibly anticipated.
Early this spring, we were unexpectedly hit by a global viral outbreak. When we switched to distance learning in mid-March, Estonia was in a much more secure position compared to many other countries; the use of digital tools, e-learning materials and the use of e-learning environments was not so new for us.
Nonetheless, we quickly had to learn a great deal during the first weeks of distance learning. For example, it turned out that self-management and independent work skills were more needed than before. But we managed! Our children gained independence, a sense of responsibility and the ability to work hard. These were lessons as well — in addition to math or geography.
Dear students, I am certain that the school year brought you joy in addition to the challenges. I hope that you remember this school year not just because of the experience with distance learning, but also because of happy and lively moments as well, whether these include springtime trails hiked alone or exciting, different kinds of get-togethers with friends.
Now it is time to rest. Do so. You have spent more than enough time sitting behind screens in recent months. Summer is a great time to go hiking, for example. There is no more beautiful nature in the entire world than in Estonia; it is worth observing closely and getting to know. I also recommend reading books over the summer. I don't mean just assigned materials for literature class; I mean all kinds of books that may interest you.
Dear school family and those of you at home! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the work you've done and effort you've put in this school year! Let's pick up where we left of on the Day of Knowledge, on September 1.
I wish everyone a joyous and refreshing summer vacation, good health, and lots of great ideas for both the new school year and beyond. I hope that your break is special in the best sense of the word!
Editor: Aili Vahtla