The positive part is that the matter has been taken up publicly. I, for instance, found the invitation to take part of the discussion on Facebook, immediately signed myself up as a volunteer for the educational slogan and took part of the first discussion in Telliskivi Creative City on 24 August. By the way, during the development of the previous slogan “Welcome to Estonia”, education was completely discarded, yet this time it is where the process is started from. It is its characteristic. We might even achieve that education will be exactly what the new Estonian slogan will be based on. Maybe something in the lines of “Welcome to a top PISA country!”
The leaders of the discussion were thinking big, definitely bigger than we are used to when thinking about our education. For example, they asked what the Estonian educational system has to offer the world. The world! Expressions such as “world as our client”, “how to make Estonian education necessary for the world” etc. were used. Indeed, why think in any smaller terms when we are in fact quite good at PISA? I remembered the slogan of the Asian tigers, “A country that is needed in the world, will do well!” And the ones that are not needed will do badly.
After that we got cracking – what is the crown jewel of our education that could be used as the cornerstone of the new slogan? The group I was in, come up with the following ideas.
Learn IT in Estonia! Even our kindergarten children build lego robots. For example in Konguta. Gustav Adolf Gymnasium has programming as part of their elementary curriculum. We have Skype, TransferWise, CrabCad etc. We have the Cyber Defence Centre, e-voting, e-tax declaration; the Finns use our X-way.
Learn music in Estonia! After all, we provide a leading-edge musical education. Couldn’t this be “needed in the world”? Practically all of us sing in a choir. We have Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, the Järvi dynasty, etc. Why couldn’t we turn Estonia into one of the centres of the world’s musical education?
Learn medicine in Estonia! The Tartu University Hospital boasts world-class equipment as well as skills. The North Estonia Medical Centre in Tallinn is an equal opponent. People from foreign countries, mostly Finland, come to see our doctors. Why couldn’t Estonia become one of the centres of the world’s medical education?
Organic education from Estonia! Approximately half of our territory is free of pollution with fertilizers and other chemicals. Why couldn’t the Estonian slogan be “Organic Estonia” and the slogan of education be “Organic education”? This means the Estonian University of Life Sciences should be transformed into one of the international hubs of organic economy education where people come to study at from all over the world. By the way, the organic teaching would also reach schools – children would learn because they want to, not because they have to.
International centre for learning foreign languages – my submission. Our Russian speaking kindergartens and schools manage to teach the children spoken Estonian in more or less a year. By the end of the second school year, Estonian is no longer a problem for the young ones. Why couldn’t we make this incredible skill “needed in the world”? Why couldn’t we turn Estonia into an international centre for learning foreign languages? It’s not like the refugee migration from crisis hotspots will suddenly stop, which is why we need to quickly teach them the local languages. And we know just how to do that.
And finally of course “Estonia – a top PISA country!” We could raise our PISA positions so that the Finns and Swedes would consider enrolling their children in Estonian schools. Obviously some changes should be done in this favour. For instance, gifted students should be considered special needs students and receive special education – this way we would have more top students of the world. By the end of kindergarten, each Estonian child should be able to read or write without any problems etc.
Although we also came up with other educational slogans, we did not reach an agreement. The good old “Study in Estonia” seemed the best. However, „Study in Sweden”, „Study in Holland” etc. already exist.
At the end we come to the conclusion that the world is a diverse place and we need diverse slogans, in other words – a cloud of brands. This way we could offer a suitable slogan for each “client”. For example, for religious countries we could advertise that we have a secular country and a secular education system, our women do not wear a niqab yet hold leading positions, etc.
For polluted countries we could advertise that we offer the opportunity to study organic production, our educational system is child-friendly, etc. For former Soviet Union nations we could advertise our freedom of speech, low corruption, etc.
Raivo Juurak, Õpetajate Leht