Estonia’s best m-service

The Information System Authority (RIA) on Wednesday named a mobile application of Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR) the country’s best m-service. The application, which allows users to watch and listen live to all TV and radio programmes and access the broadcaster’s archive, was developed in co-operation by ERR, Finestmedia, and Helmes, RIA said. In addition to live broadcasts and archived materials, the application offers daily news in Estonian, Russian and English and programming schedules.

Jury member Katri Ristal said the ERR application won the competition because it is user-friendly and enables users to keep abreast of daily news and use the Estonian audiovisual archive regardless of their location.

The winner in the commerce and business category was Qminder, a mobile application for remote queuing that makes the service process substantially more comfortable. In the category of health and environment MOBO, an orienteering application developed by Tak R&D, was declared the winner.

By way of exception, several applications were named as the best in the category of culture and education. The jury’s pick was applications by Walk & Learn that provide study material on nature.

In all 44 domestic m-services participated in the five categories of the competition initiated by RIA. The eight-member jury consisting of experts from various fields of life evaluated the entries by their functionality, user-friendliness, aesthetic quality, safety, and marketing and social potential.

Source: Estonian Review

Estonian schoolchildren speak good English

On the basis of a language proficiency study initiated by the European Commission, Estonian schoolchildren’s command of English was the fourth best among the 14 countries that took part in the study; command of the other tested language, German, was poorer among Estonian young people, and they remained seventh in the study.

The study confirmed that Estonian schoolchildren’s command of their first foreign language was at a good level, Tõnu Teder, adviser at the language department of the Ministry of Education and Research, told reporters. “But it is necessary to think how to improve the study of a second foreign language, because there is still a lot of room for development there,” Tender added.

In addition to the command of a language, the study also examined some aspects of language learning. It was confirmed, for example, that learning a foreign language as early as possible would ensure better command of the language. Students who feel the need to learn a language achieve better results than students whose attitude to learning a language is reluctant.  A somewhat surprising conclusion from the study was that independent use of a computer for language learning exercised a negative influence on the command of a language.

Source: Estonian Review

Estonia 21st among EU27 by GDP per capita

Estonia’s GDP per capita was 67 percent of the EU average last year, placing the nation 21st , according to Eurostat.  Lithuania and Latvia placed 24th and 25th, respectively. 

The richest country in the EU was Luxembourg (274 percent of the EU average) and the bottom of the ranking was occupied by Bulgaria ( 45 percent of the EU average).

Read more from BBN

Latvian minister of justice steps down

Justice Gaidis Berzins (Nacionala Apvieniba VL-TB/LNNK (NA)) announced that he is stepping down from his office, reports news2biz Latvia.

The resignation came as a complete surprise, although Berzins had his disagreements with PM Valdis Dombrovskis before. The reason cited for resignation was the proposed compensation to the Latvian Jewish community for property lost during World War II. The Ministry of Justice had to prepare a list of properties eligible for the compensation. Berzins, a right-wing nationalist, saw the proposal as unjustly shifted towards one ethnic group and refused to do so.

Read more from BBN

Estonia is a tech start-up nation

Estonia is the 132nd-smallest country in the world by land mass, yet it produces more start-ups per head of population than any other country in Europe. It has a population the size of Copenhagen but has one of the world’s most advanced e-governments.

What is it about this former Soviet state, with an obscure language and unenviable weather, that produces so many start-ups?

Of the 20 finalists in January’s Seedcamp, an entrepreneur-mentoring program, four were Estonian—including the eventual winner, GrabCAD, a social network for engineers which has 10% of the world’s mechanical engineers registered.

According to Antti Vilpponen, CEO and cofounder of ArcticStartup, a site that follows entrepreneurship in the region, Estonia has three things in its favor: political leadership, the success of Skype, and its culture.

Read more from The Wall Street Journal

How Estonia became an Internet titan

The European country where Skype was born made a conscious decision to embrace the web after shaking off Soviet shackles. In a tiny (population: 1.4 million) and newly independent country likeEstonia, politicians realised computers could help quickly compensate for both a minuscule workforce and a chronic lack of physical infrastructure.

Seventeen years on, the internet has done more than just help. It is now tightly entwined withEstonia’s identity. “For other countries, the internet is just another service, like tap water, or clean streets,” said Linnar Viik, a lecturer at the Estonian IT College, a government adviser and a man almost synonymous inEstoniawith the rise of the web.

“But for young Estonians, the internet is a manifestation of something more than a service – it’s a symbol of democracy and freedom.”

To see why, you just have to go outside. Free Wi-Fi is everywhere, and has been for a decade.

By 1997 a staggering 97% of Estonian schools already had internet. Now 42 Estonian services are now managed mainly through the internet. Last year, 94% of tax returns were made online, usually within five minutes. You can vote on your laptop and sign legal documents on a smartphone. Cabinet meetings have been paperless since 2000.

Doctors only issue prescriptions electronically, while in the main cities you can pay by text for bus tickets, parking, and – in some cases – a pint of beer. Not bad for country where, two decades ago, half the population had no phone line.

Central to the Estonian project is the ID card, introduced in 2002. Nine in 10 Estonians have one, and – by slotting it into their computer – citizens can use their card to vote online, transfer money and access all the information the state has on them.

Read more from The Guardian: How tiny Estonia stepped out of USSR’s shadow to become an internet titan

President: there is still arrogant attitude towards us in Western Europe

Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves criticized the still arrogant stance of some Western countries’  towards the supposedly primitive and ignorant East.

“In some Western European countries there is still arrogant attitude towards the supposedly primitive and ignorant East. It is pretty frustrating to see that when you follow all the rules of the game, the ones who discredited you, themselves violate the rules,” said Ilves in an interview to the Austrian daily newspaper Die Presse.

Ilves brought an example of unfairly small grants given to Estonian farmers compared to those given to Western European countries.

“Look at the EU’s agricultural policy. How do you explain the fact that we have a common internal market for tractors, seed and fertilizers and on the other hand, EU old members receive three times higher farm subsidies than Baltic countries fromBrussels? Or the fact that the EU’s diplomatic service is hardly represented by Eastern Europeans?

It is true that Poland and Estonia are currently treated well – but it is so only because media prefers to portray extraordinary. Responsibility in matters of money in those days seems to be an unusual round. Unfortunately. ”

Regarding the financial crises in Greek Ilves said that Estonian politicians acted responsibly and in solidarity, but in a long term it is not acceptable in terms of democracy that a poor country is helping a rich country out of trouble. Voters will not accept that. He added that Estonian GDP per capita is smaller than in Greece. Our average monthly income is 10-15 percent lower than Greek minimum salary; let alone pensions.

Source: tabloid; original source, Die Presse