President Alar Karis: We study and learn for the sake of freedom

President of the Republic of Estonia Alar Karis.
President of the Republic of Estonia Alar Karis. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia

Thursday, September 1 was the first day of the 2022-2023 academic year, referred to as the Day of Wisdom (Teadmistepäev) in Estonia. The head of state, President Alar Karis, gave an address to mark the occasion, which follows in its entirety.

This September, nearly every fifth Estonian walks into an educational institution, full of expectation and the hope of stepping back out in the spring, smarter, and more educated.

If we add those who attend additional training or hobby classes during the course of the year, we have a good amount of people who aring strive for education. We gain an awe-inspiring amount of knowledge and skills every year. However, it couldn't be otherwise, as if it were, then the joints of our state would start to crack, and lead us off the path.

I sincerely hope that all students are filled with anticipation and expectation about the new school year. Expectation, because, for you, school is a safe place where your peers and teachers support your development.

Anticipation, because the knowledge gained takes you on a journey along new, as yet unknown paths.

Learning inevitably leads to a searching journey before the picture becomes clear and the world reveals itself to us from a new and wider perspective.

In school, we can wander under the watchful eyes of our guides; teachers, who will not let the nerves of adventure transform into a fear of getting lost. This way, every journey of discovery that broadens our view of the world gives us a choice of new paths and methods of self-realization.

In other words, we learn for freedom's sake. The freedom to live your life to the fullest. For the ability to read the map of life and prepare for unexpected twists and turns.

With a nation such as this, it is easier for the state to maintain its freedom.

We must admit that we have not always managed to offer all of this to all students, in the best possible way.

Now that we have finally started planning our transition to Estonian-language learning, we do so in order to give those young people more freedom to thrive in their homeland.

If we fail to equip them with sufficient language skills, we have let them down, and leave them with fewer choices of what to do with their lives and how to contribute to society.

We can also support young people's mental health more effectively. I truly hope that the question of the future of our teachers become one of the central topics of the upcoming election campaign, as the guarantee of the future of the Estonian nation.

I can only repeat what Andres Juur, the recipient of the President's Young Educator Prize, said about the shortage of teachers in his speech in the Rose Garden on 20 August.

He said: "We all can and must do something to prevent our state and nation from being swallowed by obscurantism. Obscurantism is of devious nature and its full impact is only revealed decades later."

My fellow Estonians.

On the occasion of the day of wisdom, I wish the motivation to learn and our wisdom accompany us everywhere we go. Let it become a question of honor. If someone makes a mistake and shows that they have learned from it, let us acknowledge that. If someone suggests that they cannot do anything, let us encourage them by saying that everything can be learned.

And let us not tolerate the signs of obscurantism in our public space.

I wish you all a happy year of learning!


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: President's Office

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