Improve Your Life Standards by Yourself!
If life is improving in the home country people are less likely to search for jobs abroad. But in order to make life better people themselves need to work hard for it and learn. Lifelong learning has to become a reality.Today about 6% of working people in Estonia a learning in the formal and non-formal adult educational system. In Sweden this percentage is 36 – so the Estonian 6 % is not a lot. But the plan is to increase in Estonia participation in adult education – so that in 2010 it can be 10% or the working people. This is an ambitious plan and can only be realized with the support of funds of the European Union.
The Estonian Non-Formal Adult Education Association (ENAEA) has a project called “Learning Guarantees Better Life Standards”. This project has received support of almost 100 000 Euro from the European Social Fund and the Estonian Government. The ENAEA has contracts with 45 educational centres in Estonia. They started the project in September 2005 and it will last for 2 and a half years. An estimated 25 000 people in Estonia will be able to improve their life quality and increase their possibilities for finding a job thanks to this project.
The content of the project was discussed in the beginning by the initiators and leaders amongst who some were convinced that ENAEA should offer only practical courses for welders, sewers and farmers. But this proved not to offer the best solution to the problem. The problem was and is that many people are psychologically and socially not prepared to change their job Teaching them practical skills would therefore be in vain. For that reason the learning of social skills is set as a priority in the project “Learning Guarantees a Better Life Standards”.
An old good protestant moralProject overview: 38% of the project’s resources are meant for learning social skills. For example – learning to find a job. This is an essential issue as it seems that many Estonians still have “an old good protestant moral” and for example find it tasteless to say something positive about their skills! Besides there are courses in foreign languages, basic computer skills etc. (734 courses in different educational centres in Estonia).
14% of resources go to direct learning of practical skills for a (new) job (193 courses).
13% - learning about market economy and principles of a democratic society (178 courses).
4% - practical knowledge on how to start an enterprise (43 courses).
30% - humanities – literature, fine art, music, theatre (300 courses).
Movement of workers inside the countryThe North-East of Estonia is mainly a Russian speaking area. Estonian language courses have proved to be popular there. Being able to speak Estonian is surely a great advantage on the Estonian labour market.
In 2005 the ENAEA educational centre of Ontika has offered long Estonian language courses to 89 people, the education centre of Kohtla-Järve has had 179 participants etc. Many Russian-speaking citizens have found work in Tallinn or other Estonian towns after completing the course - sewers, welders, construction workers etc.
At the same time the lack of knowledge of Estonian and foreign languages is still a problem in Ida-Virumaa. When a direct ferry line was opened from the North-Eastern town of Sillamäe to Kotka in Finland the local people could not be employed there because they could not speak well enough Estonian nor Finnish.
The lack of foreign language abilities is a great problem in North-East Estonia. There are excellent holiday resorts near Narva but they are underused because the local people cannot communicate in Estonian, Finnish, German nor English. Beautiful holiday and potential tourist resorts remain almost empty.
The open labour market of EU has made new educational claims to the lately joined members – learning foreign languages is one of them.
by Raivo Juurak, raivo.juurak(ät)gmail.com, translated by Krõõt Juurak