Study: Finding new teachers increasingly difficult across Estonia

September 1 2022 at the Kristiine High School and the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool), both in Tallinn.
September 1 2022 at the Kristiine High School and the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool), both in Tallinn. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

It is becoming increasingly challenging to find teachers across Estonia, a problem exacerbated by the transition to Estonian language education and new Ukrainian refugees, a report by the Foresight Center found.

The center will carry out research this year into the issue this year and outline likely future trends until 2040.

The situation has mainly been studied in relation to low salaries but there are additional factors, center head Tea Danilov said in a statement.

"The future of the teaching profession depends on how we talk about the profession, what is the working culture and class climate, and what are the growing expectations of parents and society to the teachers today," she said.

The think tank will analyze current trends from the perspective of teachers, students, and schools, and outlines possible future scenarios.

Tea Danilov Source: ERR

It will focus on regional policy as there is a need to reorganize Estonia's school network due to student numbers and population placement.

Additionally, it will study teachers' career choices and future plans. 

Center expert Eneli Kindsiko said: "The younger generation has a new way of approaching the labor market – frequent changing of jobs and careers is common nowadays, as is the expectation of more flexible working relations. This raises the question of how we could ensure a stable future for the teaching profession when the new generations of teachers change jobs more frequently than the older ones and gig work has taken the labor market by storm."

 A growing number of studies is showing that the daily work of a teacher in the classroom and school is becoming increasingly challenging, which is another reason for young teachers to leave schools.

"Classroom climate, disciplinary problems of students, and overly critical parents have their impact on teachers staying in schools and new teachers coming in. The teaching profession is also one of the best examples of five generations, i.e. teachers between the ages of 20 and 70, working together in one organization, and this also sets new challenges to both teachers and school managers," Kindsiko added.

September 1 2022 at the Kristiine High School and the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool), both in Tallinn. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Foresight Center will also analyze how technological infrastructure contributes to a uniform quality of regional education.

Applying digital means to learning is a growing requirement today, but only one in three teachers feel digitally competent enough.

It further complicates teaching in schools that the students are often significantly more technologically literate than the teachers.

The new report's guidelines (in Estonian) are online and it will be completed by the end of the year.

The Foresight Center is a think tank at the Estonian parliament. Its tasks include analyzing long-term developments in society, identifying new trends and development avenues, and drafting development scenarios.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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