Ministry wants to extend compulsory schooling to age 18

The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research has come up with a plan to extend compulsory school attendance to age 18, the daily Postimees says.

At present only obtaining basic education is compulsory. After students have turned 17 but have not succeeded in completing basic school educational establishments are no longer obliged to keep them in school.

The Social Democrat education minister, Jevgeni Ossinovski, believes that extending compulsory school attendance by one year till reaching the age of majority would alleviate the problem. This would mean that a student aged below 18 years who has graduated from basic school would have to attend high school or vocational school.

Ossinovski said the measure would not require any new student places as there are more slots than students at present.

According to the plan local self-governments would be responsible for all students having a place in basic school but after graduation the government would assume bigger responsibility for continued schooling by providing career and student counselling services through the Rajaleidja (Pathfinder) centres of the Innove foundation that started work in September.

The minister said that only 3 percent of youngsters do not pursue further education after basic school. But in his words the planned change would affect also those who break off their vocational studies. “The high vocational school dropout rate is partly due to the fact that schools have taken the attitude that they offer classes and it’s up to the young people whether or not to turn up. This often does not work and youngsters stay away,” he said.

People without professional education made up 29.6 percent of the 25-64 age group last year, around 200,000 persons in all, and the vocational school dropout rate is around 20 percent.

Ossinovski said that the present government will definitely not get as far as a bill to change the law, but the ministry wants to find out society’s reaction to the proposal in coming months.

Former education minister Jaak Aaviksoo from the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) said extending compulsory school attendance will not solve the problem, which is uninteresting and impractical teaching. “Young people perceive that they obtain knowledge much faster by working,” he said.

SOurce: Estonian Review via BNS

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