Motivated by EU subsidies
Increasingly more people are motivated to participate in adult education in Estonia because of growing awareness on the one hand and the other key factor is the support of European Social Fund to all larger adult education programs in Estonia, says Andres Pung, head of Vocational and Adult Education Department of Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia.
Andres Pung: „I believe that when the Estonian society becomes wealthier, people and companies will begin to invest in life-long learning by themselves and then the financial support of the European Union will no longer be necessary“.
Free courses for youth with basic and secondary education
First of all Andres Pung mentions the advanced education programs designed for young people who have interrupted vocational or higher education. The vocational school program KUTSE was launched this year and enables about 400 young people continue their studies in the upcoming few years. The higher education program TULE can offer courses for up to 800 young. These programs are free of charge for everybody. It is an advantage if the student has previously completed at least half of the program at a vocational school or university. This program is functioning very well and young people are happy to participate, Andres Pung notes. The program is supported by the European Social Fund.
Secondly, many people are motivated to find out about life-long learning thanks to a program launched in 2006 where Estonian vocational schools started to offer free courses to people with basic and secondary school education, employed and unemployed alike. People with higher education have always been active in participating in adult education in Estonia. This program supports people with basic and secondary education. Andres Pung is happy that so many people have signed up for the courses, which shows that they too, want to learn, only the lack of awareness and money have been an obstacle.
The goal is to increase awareness
Thirdly, Andres Pung points out the importance of raising people's awareness. A large-scale program to propagate adult education was launched in 2006, which focuses specifically on motivating people to continue learning. Topical TV and radio programs, the adult education magazine Õpitrepp, organizing of the Adult Education Week are some of the many activities of this program. Thus new target groups have been reached to involve them in adult education.
All of the abovementioned programs are funded by the Estonian State and the European Social Fund, whereas without the support of ESF most of the initiatives would be unthinkable, Andres Pung sais.
The support from European Union plays an important role in motivating people. The further goal of the abovementioned programs is not to offer free courses to people but to motivate them, to make learning develop into a life-long habit. These programs have already proven to have positive influence on learning. Very few adults had participated in education previously, but according to the Eurostat survey in 2009 already 10.8 percent of the Estonian adult population were in adult education, which places Estonia on the 8th place among the 27 countries of the European Union.
Raivo Juurak, translation by Krõõt Juurak