Reform, Isamaa, SDE find common ground on education reforms
Reform, Isamaa and SDE found common ground over education reform on the first day of coalition negotiations on Monday, the parties said.
The transition to Estonian language education, higher education and related issues were discussed, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told journalists after the first meeting between the parties.
"We are pleased to say that we have a lot in common. If we are talking about the transition to pre-school education in Estonian, for example, then we all have very ambitious goals to put into law. Also, the next stages, which concern different levels, require expert discussion, and discussions with experts from different parties, to reach an agreement. But there was also a very clear common ground," she said.
The negotiators found it easiest to agree on pre-school education and the transition to Estonian language education, the prime minister said. The only questions that remain are when this should be introduced and what resources are needed.
A bigger question mark hangs over Estonian language education in basic schools and Kallas said a "step-by-step approach" is needed. She said plans have been thoroughly discussed and it needs to be introduced in a way that suits everyone.
Isamaa's Tõnis Lukas confirmed progress has been made on this issue and said the details are still being clarified. "We are negotiating and now we are moving in the same direction in these matters," he said.
Lukas said the coalition is closer to an agreement on a transition to Estonian language education than ever before.
SDE chairman Lauri Läänemets said there was also a consensus for higher education funding. He said the situation must "improve significantly".
Politicians also discussed study grants for students and ways to ensure hobby education for children, especially those that live outside of cities, Läänemets said.
All parties said they are looking for ways to create administrative contracts for higher education institutions.
Kallas said the details of the agreement on education will not be made public until everything has been agreed by the parties.
"A lot of these things are also directly related to the need for more money, so we need to look at the need for money when we have everything mapped out, how much we are able to do and where there can be compromises," she said.
The parties are still seeking a compromise on the family benefits bill. "This is a very important issue for Isamaa and we are looking for a compromise. There is still work to be done," the prime minister said.
Kallas said a solution needs to be found for everyone in Estonia, not only families.
Lukas said the issue is progressing and that it is important to provide larger families with a sense of security. Isamaa still supports the adoption of the bill in its current form, Priit Sibul, party Secretary General said on Monday.
Negotiations continue on Tuesday and energy, security, refugees and forestry will be discussed.
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Editor: Helen Wright