Education ministry allocates €6 million for summer 'catch up' camps

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Primary school classroom in Estonia. Source: Sille Annuk/Postimees/Scanpix

€6 million will be spent on summer education camps for children this year to help close the gaps created by distance learning, the Ministry of Education and Research has said.

The ministry will give grants of up to €120 per participant to attend the camps which will last between three and five days.

Mari Tikerpuu, the chief specialist of the ministry, said the main aim is to encourage children's interest in learning and to then support the goals set by the curriculum.

"There is really no one in the ministry who thinks that after distance learning all students should be forced to go to school. Of course, motivation for learning will not be developed over a few days. But it is possible to rekindle interest and support the joy of learning. Certainly, the debts incurred during the six months will not be solved by the camps' activities," Tikerpuu said.

She said funding and support will be distributed to camp organizers who can involve students whose learning has suffered the most and teachers will be able to help with this.

Margit Timakov, chairman of the board of the Teachers' Union, supports the plans: "After all, schools deal with this today, and they know in which subjects students have had difficulty coping or whose academic results have fallen."

She said it is also important to understand that students' problems are not unsolvable, adding it is best to make up the shortcomings of distance learning during the next school year.

Margus Pedaste, an education researcher at the University of Tartu, said students need communication and the opportunity to rest in the summer.

"We need to think not only about subject-specific goals but also about goals related to society, self-development in general, growing up, socializing, cooperating with others," Pedaste said.

School children in Estonia have been distance learning since March and were also learning online for much of 2020.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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