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The Minister of Education and Research Jaak Aaviksoo replied to the interpellation concerning the financing of general education (No 362), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Mailis Reps, Eldar Efendijev, Valeri Korb, Peeter Võsa, Yana Toom, Tarmo Tamm, Priit Toobal, Vladimir Velman and Aadu Must on 14 October. 

The interpellators referred to the fact that a new financing model needs to be established in general education in order to increase the minimum monthly salary rate of teachers. In addition, the school network and the number of teachers has to be adjusted significantly. The interpellators wished to know to what extent the Ministry of Education and Research is planning to reduce the number of teachers on the basis of its analyses. 

According to Aaviksoo’s explanations, the new financing model has not been established for increasing the minimum monthly salary rate of teachers. The minimum monthly salary rate of teachers has risen in recent years without changes to this financing model. It will also rise significantly as of 1 January next year and will definitely rise as of 1 January 2015. Aaviksoo noted that the ratio of pupils to teachers is expected to change in the coming years. The Ministry of Education and Research is trying to take this into account with the flexible organisation of financing, he added. 

In Aaviksoo’s words, it has been unanimously found that the maximum limit might be 32 pupils per class in the upper secondary school and 24 in the basic school. “In high density regions with significantly more children than single sets of classes, such standards for the size of a class should be observed as would yield a teacher/pupil ratio of 15 in the basic school and 16.3 in the upper secondary school. “Then we will be able to calculate the number of posts of teachers needed on the basis of the study programme. The salary should be 960 euro for each post of teacher,“ the Minister said. 

In Aaviksoo’s opinion, it would be ill-disposed and irresponsible to think that, on the basis of the studies, the Ministry of Education and Research is planning a financing reform that would lead to closing basic schools close to homes. “I assure you that the financing of basic schools close to homes, especially in small rural municipalities, will see a relative growth in the forthcoming period,” Aaviksoo underlined. 

The Minister explained that not all children go to a school close to their home or in their home county. Movement takes place within Estonia and also out of Estonia. All these aspects must be taken into account. Such dynamics was taken into account already in the first, relatively thorough study that Praxis did in 2005. Aaviksoo continues to hope for constructive cooperation with local governments. 

“We all have learned from the need to plan the school network for years ahead. I believe that the amendments introduced to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act and the proposed financing model will help avoid such problems in the future,” Aaviksoo said. 

During the open microphone, Jüri Ratas took the floor and read out the address to the parliament from Martinmas mummers who visited the Riigikogu today. The Martinmas mummers wished that the state leaders would have the faith and will to uphold the family and the growing of children. Also, to strengthen and develop the state which is founded on liberty, justice and the rule of law. 

During the open microphone, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Inara Luigas and Helmen Kütt also took the floor. 

The Riigikogu Press Service