'Samost ja Sildam': Filling education gap requires common effort

Anvar Samost (left) and Toomas Sildam, on an earlier Vikerraadio broadcast..
Anvar Samost (left) and Toomas Sildam, on an earlier Vikerraadio broadcast.. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The gap created in children's education needs to be filled with efforts from the entire society, journalists Anvar Samost and Toomas Sildam said in their Vikerraadio talk show.

"It is everyone's common responsibility that if we have decided in a democratic decision-making process to take away a piece of children's education to combat the virus, that we are all responsible for figuring out how to put it back," Samost said.

He added that the situation today is similar to when the government decided to stop payments into people's mandatory funded pension during an economic crisis for which compensation was later paid. "It is easy to put money back, while I do not know how we are going to put education back in the lives of growing children – a far more complicated task," the journalist said.

Sildam said that next to gaps in knowledge, the other important aspect is how to restore children's study habit, motivation and desire to attend school in the first place after they've seen that there is another way.

Samost remarked that the size of the hole that 2021 will leave in the education of Estonian students remains unclear, just as we don't know how to compensate. Making the academic year longer at the expense of the summer break might also not be a good idea, he added. "The saddest aspect is that many children are more tired of remote learning than they would be attending school. Cutting the summer break shorter might not yield the desired result."

"It is a major challenge for the education ministry, schools and the entire education system, while the entire Estonian society will have to contribute. It is very difficult to say how that should be done today, while we should make sure we will not be talking about a generation missing two years of education and how it was inevitable a decade from now. That would be the most unfortunate scenario of all," Samost said.

Toomas Sildam offered that information from the education minister on support persons, psychologists and extra lessons the ministry offers is sympathetic. "I gather that there are attempts to fill that gap, even though it will not be possible in full," Sildam noted.

"The simplest way to minimize the damage would be to open schools as soon as possible. Children need to be sent to school as soon as possible," Samost said in conclusion.

The hosts also talked about the coronavirus and vaccination efforts, as well as the government's plans for the supplementary state budget.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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