No decision has been made yet regarding whether or not to abolish basic school exams, Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Centre) said on Tuesday.
Last week, Minister of the Interior and Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman Mart Helme told daily Postimees last week that when it comes to the plan to abolish basic school final exams at the end of 9th grade, the Centre Party is on its own, and that the contents of the relevant bill approved by the government over the summer may have confused EKRE ministers.
"The solidarity of the coalition is important and necessary to move things forward, but sometimes it so happens that one cannot support any and every passing thought," Helme said.
"This issue has been discussed in principle by coalition leadership, yes, and we have found that it would be reasonable," he responded when asked whether a decision had been made to keep basic school exams in place.
According to Reps, however, discussions are still ongoing.
"Regarding basic school final exams, this discussion is still ongoing, and the coalition leadership has not made a decision regarding the matter," the education minister told ERR.
"I do not want to see the final exams abolished altogether; rather, I want us to provide more frequent and systematic feedback to children, schools and parents regarding what is going on at school in terms of substance," Reps explained.
"National external evaluations need to be expanded," she continued. "Whether or not 9th grade-level work could be replaced by math or other subject exams needs to be discussed further."
Three exams in question
Under current requirements, students are required to take and pass three final exams at the end of basic school — in the Estonian language, math, and a third subject of the student's choice.
This August, the government approved a bill of amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act and the Citizenship Act abolishing mandatory basic school final exams.
Since then, the Ministry of Education and Research proposed that the parts of the bill involving the Citizenship Act be unbundled from the remainder of the bill, which is currently expected to be handled procedurally at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu.
Also in the works are plans to start testing all students graduating basic school on the principles of the Constitution and civics.
Editor: Aili Vahtla