Former education minister Jaak Aaviksoo said that the separation of responsibility for funding education has made it extremely difficult to find a solution. Suggestions that it is the Ministry of Education that has to allocate funds for extra teacher pay are unreasonable.
"Work contracts are awarded by local authorities, the money is in the hands of the minister of finance or the minister of regional affairs, and the responsibility lies with the minister of education. And then, when there's a row in the house, they point the finger at each other. Today's debate shows this very clearly. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to find a solution in such a way," Jaak Aaviksoo told the Vikerraadio program "Uudis+".
Aaviksoo said the solution to the conflict has three parts: finding additional money, the willingness of the parties to engage in substantive dialogue, and greater responsibility on the part of local authorities.
The strike is just a link in a long chain, he said.
"I think this is the best opportunity we've had in the last 10-15 years. There is a sense in society that we cannot go on like this. The division of rights, responsibilities and obligations is a key part of the solution. This cannot be achieved without the passage of legislation. It also needs to address somewhat larger issues such as the funding of local governments and the rights and responsibilities of teachers," Jaak Aaviksoo said.
Aaviksoo said that the funds designated for education are held by multiple parties. The ministry of education holds a mere 40 percent of the funds and the remainder is allocated to local governments and the Ministry of Finance.
"These demands that the Ministry of Education add more money to what it has already found in its resources are not fair. As I understand it from the minister of education, we cannot just take this money away from research and higher education," Aaviksoo said.
"Simply put, there is money, but less than half of it reaches the teachers. Metaphorically speaking, the children in the family are starving while the mother and father buy a new apartment and a car," Aaviksoo drew the comparison.
Aaviksoo prepared a report for the Ministry of Education last year in which he suggested that the state was too generous in allocating funds for new school infrastructure and also proposed reducing the number of public high schools in Estonia.
Editor: Kristina Kersa