Think-tank: Party electoral programs lack imagination
Party election manifestos published ahead of polling day, March 5, lack vision in their treatment of education, one think-tank analyst says.
The parties have called for raising average teacher wages to a level above the national average and for a switch to Estonian-only education, while cutting teacher workloads and providing extracurricular hobby education for free, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday.
However, Marleen Allemann, an education analyst at the Praxis think-tank, told AK that education programs reflect the sector's foibles.
Allemann said: "In the current situation, a teacher's salary does not depend on their seniority or their competences."
Some of the parties had at least addressed this, she added, and seek to revive the profession in terms of a defined career path.
"That this career model is on the table in one way or another is welcome," Allemann went on, adding that, nonetheless, even here the promises were vague, while the electoral programs lack future vision.
"The second impression I have been getting is that while we talk about education in Estonian, primary, secondary and tertiary, a lot, much less is actually said about the quality of education. The question is, must it be this way - the [Estonian] language, first followed by quality second," she went on.
In terms of parties, AK reported Center's main focus on a lack of teachers and also higher education lecturers.
Party board member and former minister Jaak Aab told AK that with the rise in salary already put in place last year, mentoring from more senior colleagues and improvements in school environments, the status of teaching has improved, which means there is less of an issue with retaining existing, younger teachers.
Reform has pledged all-Estonian-language kindergartens by next year, with this to follow in general education schools by 2030. The average teachers' wage would be 120 percent of the national average, should another Reform electoral pledged materialize.
The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) also wants Estonian education, and courses on Estonian cultural history and literature as part of the curriculum.
The Social Democrats would raise teacher wages to 130 percent of the national average, as well as free extra-curricular "hobby" education, and more specialists to be employed in schools.
Isamaa, too, considers education in Estonian as the most important policy, and would put teacher salaries at 125 percent of the national mean.
Isamaa currently holds the education ministerial post in Tõnis Lukas, who said that Estonian-language education only would begin from kindergarten age.
Eesti 200 has called for an additional €250 million per year to invest in education, as the cornerstone of the health, well-being and prosperity of the country.
Meanwhile, the Estonian Greens would bring flexibility to schools and promote the survival of smaller and community-oriented schools, while Parempoolsed would take steps to make teaching a more attractive profession and optimize the organization of the national schools network.
The Riigikogu election takes place March 5, with advance voting starting on February 27. The XIV Riigikogu stops work the previous week.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera