A Basic Education in the Third Millennium
The information-based economy needs workers who are able to integrate their skills with personal traits and views to adapt to the period of economic transition.
The strategy for an information-based Estonia states as its goals the renewal of knowledge stores and increasing the competitiveness of enterprise. The main requirement for achieving these aims is the existence of specialists in all professions. A flourishing economy is not possible with people with incomplete and lacking educations. We need information workers whose education enables retraining and transitions into new industries as frequently as demanded by the changing times and economy. If there are areas that are not addressed in full in a basic education – areas that are necessary for additional study and a society that enshrines the value of lifelong learning – then there is not a sufficient foundation for people to acquire more specialized skills. For years, the dropout rate has been under one percent, but the national total for a given year is equivalent to the student body at an average city school. And the number of people with less than a secondary school education is growing among young people. Even though the percentage of people who graduated from high school in the 1990s is high, the effectiveness of education gets a bad grade in preparing students for their given field and the high unemployment in the ranks of 20-24-year-olds (19.4%). The third millennium educational ethos means simply placing a premium on students’ desires and needs and placing the teacher in an advisory and guiding role – a paradigm shift from fact-and-teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning. Thus, among our educational policy goals should be a duty to evaluate the success of students several years after they finish school: what opportunities were afforded by their basic education?