Kristian Jaani: National defense education needs to be broad-based

Kristian Jaani.
Kristian Jaani. Source: Ministry of the Interior

National defense and internal security education must merge into one instead of becoming bitter competitors, Kristian Jaani writes.

The national defense development plan includes the internal security target of solving crises in a way that keeps them from escalating into military conflicts. A clear message that we need strong internal security in order to avoid war. Of course, should we fail, military national defense must be strong in its turn.

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur recently proposed making national defense education mandatory in Estonian high schools. I am wholeheartedly in favor of the idea! We do not have to start from scratch as many high schools offer it as an elective subject, with over 5,000 students taking the course annually. A veritable army if we consider that their friends, family members and loved ones probably also feel differently about defense education as a result. The effect is there.

But national defense education is not the only option for high school students who want to be better prepared at a young age and tie themselves to protecting their country already in high school.

The other option must not fall off the agenda. The two need to form a whole called broad-based national defense. I am talking about internal security education that the Estonian Internal Security Academy offers high schools.

The internal security education program covers 18 high schools, seven of them in Ida-Viru County. More are looking to join. Internal security education reaches around 600 high school students annually. The elective subject covers the police/border guard, as well as the rescue field that is currently concentrating on civil defense.

The teachers are experts in their chosen fields and the program includes field camps etc. It is practical, thorough and high-quality education. Graduates can take the assistant police officer examination immediately. High school students can also take the voluntary rescue worker test and become volunteers upon graduation.

Graduation also gives extra credit when applying to the Internal Security Academy, with almost 40 percent of graduates who apply accepted into the academy. All of it is very much needed in our security situation.

But we need an integral solution. The defense minister's proposal is welcome, while the solution must be complete. National defense education and internal security education must not become competitors but merge into one, becoming a motivational package for young people for attending the Internal Security Academy, becoming assistant police officers or rescue volunteers. We can add to it the Ministry of Internal Affairs' stipend that reached ten high school students last year.

If we can merge the two subjects and add a motivational package that could also include links to compulsory military service, the Defense Forces Academy or the Defense League, it would be a powerful package indeed. Our security needs a concrete approach starting in high school. Let us give our high school students an integral and broad-based national security motivation package.


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Editor: Kaupo Meiel, Marcus Turovski

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