President: Education is a golden gift we give ourselves

President Kersti Kaljulaid addressing school children, as well as those returning to education, at the start of the new school year.
President Kersti Kaljulaid addressing school children, as well as those returning to education, at the start of the new school year. Source: ERR

While it fell on a Sunday this year, the first day of school is as always Sept. 1. President Kersti Kaljulaid addressed all those returning to or starting school, as well as those beyond school age who are thinking about returning to education. The address which she made from the Kadriorg Palace on Sunday evening follows in translation.

Dear children, parents and teachers. The new school year began today. This is a journey of discovery, and I very much hope that this year, everyone will find the interesting angles and corners which offer the sincere joy of discovery, from all of your textbooks, conversations with teachers and classmates or coursemates, as well as museums, books, and the internet. May you all experience the joy of discovery.

Young people and school children certainly do [experience that joy]. However, I hope that again and again the power of discovery, exploration, finding new interests will be shared by everyone who steps through the door of the schoolhouse every morning. To guide you, to help you, to guide you, to sympathize with you.

And also for those who may be just considering about going back to school again, and have found or are in the process of finding an area for themselves to delve deeper into: Education is a golden gift to yourself, something which is always worth doing. This is what every person, young or old, can do for themselves.

And in addition to the joy of discovery, all of our young people simply have to enjoy school and have fun. Every child needs to be able to go to school every morning without fear. Every child needs to be able to go to bed at night, without a fear of tomorrow.

This can only happen if all of us: learners, teachers, parents, friends and even just passers-by, pay attention and take care. No one should simply look the other way when someone is hurt. Whether it is at school, at the busstop after a training session, or in the evening, on a smartphone.

Fine young people! We are often asked what kind of world do we want to leave for our children? I see more and more that you don't really want to know or don't have high expectations. According to the PISA tests, young people in Estonia are world-leaders, and your understanding of how the world functions is superb. You want to decide for yourself, what kind of world you will spend the rest of your life in.

More and more, I see in you both the desire and the urge to have a say in things. You want to do it yourself. A willingness to confront the inevitable climate challenges facing the world. A desire to have a say in how to preserve species on our planet. The dream of making our planet cleaner, rather than having to bury our heads in the sand, in the hopes that it might change.

And I know that it is often you yourselves who cause your family, loved ones, and friends to ponder over these topics, and to think and to act from that point on.

Dear young people and those of you who have either reached the youthful learning curve, or have come back to it much later. I wish you all a friendly, caring and fascinating school year. And of course a safe journey through school!

The original filmed address (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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