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The President of the Republic opened the conference "School Network - Quality and Accessibility of Education"

The President of the Republic today at the National Library of Estonia opened the conference "School Network - Quality and Accessibility of Education" organised by the Public Understanding Foundation.

In his opening address President Rüütel noted that the societal agreement signed in 2003 established long-term goals for modernisation of Estonian educational system, and on the bases of that, a year ago, the Estonian Educational Forum presented concrete proposals and an action plan, and some of the proposed measures have been already implemented by the Ministry of Education and Research. "It is very important that the future plans would take into account the accessibility and quality of education following the principle that "each child has the right to get a good education that meets the child's interest"," the Head of State said.

The President of the Republic stressed that the role of school in the educational system is undoubtedly very important, but also all the other institutions of the society have to fulfil their role. "Provided that all those institutions were efficiently working together, all Estonian schools could become very good schools," President Rüütel said.

The Head of State stressed that the educational system should be flexible, so that a person at any given time during his or her life could get retraining or complementary training, and therefore better integration of various types of schools would be necessary. "The current network of schools is administrated by several bodies and it is too inflexible to enable the students to change already chosen educational path and transfer to more suitable form of learning," the President of the Republic said.

At the same time, President Rüütel expressed his opinion that the level of Estonian education is rather good in general, which has been confirmed also by several international comparative studies. "We ourselves are highly critical of our educational system, and maybe this is the reason why we have sometimes too hastily rushed to revise existing principles. Unfortunately, it could cause damage instead of doing any good if immature ideas were hastily realised without discussing them with stakeholders and prognosticating possible results," President Rüütel said. "Implementation of reforms that are not elaborated thoroughly will increase the insecurity of stakeholders and will lessen the support to planned measures. Constant changes will blur the distribution of obligations and responsibilities between the state, local governments, schools and parents," the Head of State added.

"We certainly have to preserve all that is good in our educational system: longstanding traditions, good teachers, studious children and motivated parents. We cannot back out of our goal to provide quality education in every district of Estonia according to the principle that the interest of children must be followed," the President of the Republic said and wished everybody strength to achieve that goal.

Public Relations Unit of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, April 28, 2005

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