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At the opening of the sitting, the President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor welcomed Eston Kohver and his family on the return of the father of the family, and also thanked the executive authorities. "I also thank all the members of the Riigikogu who kept this issue constantly on the agenda in their official reports at various events, but also in other conversations," Nestor said.

Then the Riigikogu heard replies to nine interpellations.

The Minister of Education and Research Jürgen Ligi replied to the interpellation concerning investments in the field of education (No. 59), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Mailis Reps, Toomas Vitsut, Viktor Vassiljev, Aadu Must, Erki Savisaar, Rein Ratas, Tarmo Tamm, Enn Eesmaa, Andrei Novikov, Valeri Korb, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Kersti Sarapuu and Märt Sults on 10 June.

The interpellators referred to the fact that, over the last ten years, a considerable share of investments in the field of education have been directed to the renovation of vocational schools. Starting from the new financing period 2014-2020, general education schools are renovated and built, with preference to post-basic school educational institutions. The interpellators wished to know how the demographic situation and changes in the student body have been taken into account when planning the investments in the field of education.

Ligi explained that, due to the demographic situation, that is, the decreased number of children, the number of students in vocational educational institutions has decreased by 4000 over ten years. The number of vocational educational institutions has decreased by 13. The total area at their disposal has decreased by 10 000 m2. The tendency is continuing and, as a result of that, the aim is to reduce the area at the disposal of state schools by additional 50 000 square metres. Ligi said that no large decrease in the number of students is forecast for this academic year. He said that rearrangements had been necessary in the school network constantly. Problems are smaller in larger centres, that is, in Tartu and Tallinn. Ligi noted that consolidation is taking place in the vocational education system as elsewhere in the education and research fields where it is necessary.

Ligi noted that we are planning to invest also in the adjustment of schools. The basic schools measure in the amount of 109 million has been designed precisely not for expanding the network but for consolidation of the network, and this includes adjustment of buildings.

Ligi underlined that we have limited opportunities and a limited responsibility. “I feel sorry for the monuments that have once reflected a much larger number of children. However, the central authority is making its education investments in local governments with a forethought that the school network would be optimal and the buildings would not remain empty,” Ligi said. He explained that we have considerable investments, 241 million in this period. Every decision has to be clever and smart, the Minister noted.

Ligi also replied to the interpellation concerning the restoration of the job grades of teachers (No. 52) and the interpellation concerning the qualifications of adult education providers (No. 54).

Auditor General Alar Karis replied to the interpellation concerning the objectives and supervision of the public procurements of the Ministry of Defence (No. 21).

The Minister of Internal Affair Hanno Pevkur replied to the interpellation concerning the number of drug-related deaths in Estonia (No. 72) and the interpellation concerning the financing of the Police and Border Guard Board (No. 73).

The Minister of Social Protection Margus Tsahkna replied to the interpellation concerning the old-age pension (No. 25) and the interpellation concerning the television programme “Puutepunkt” (“Touchpoint”) (No. 35).

The Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski replied to the interpellation concerning the system of payment of the sickness benefit (No. 26).

During the open microphone, Priit Toobal took the floor.

The sitting ended at 8.22 p.m.

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu (NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service

Gunnar Paal, 631 6351, 5190 2837

[email protected]