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The President of the Republic greeted the learning Estonia

President Arnold Rüütel this morning via Estonian Radio addressed all pupils and students, parents, teachers and educationalists, and whished them a happy start of the new school year.

The President in his address emphasized that the future of Estonia was knowledge-based society. "This means, in the first place, that everyone must have access to education and, thereafter, equal opportunities to obtain education," he said. The Head of State voiced concern over the fact that many young people did not complete their education and the dropout rate of basic schools was particularly high. According to him, just these young were susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse, and they made up the risk group frequently connected with crime and spread of AIDS.

The President maintained that, for small Estonia, education was almost the only chance of sustainable development. Therefore, he called for contributing more to this area and for concluding a broad-based agreement, the focus of which were accessibility of good education and sense of security of families with children. The President noted: "We will have turned our nice words into deeds only when the state budget allocations for education will have increased significantly."

The Head of State expressed his conviction that if we were capable of agreeing on the most important things among ourselves then we would be able to protect our interests in the European Union too.

Office of the President
Kadriorg, September 1, 2003

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