Should Estonia limit admission to upper schools?
Estonia's Minister of Education Mailis Reps has proposed the introduction of minimum grades for pupils to gain admission to upper secondary school. Pupils who fail to achieve these grades would automatically have to attend vocational schools. Reps aims to reduce the number of students dropping out of upper secondary school. The Estonian press discusses the consequences for society.
Prevent selection and social divisions
Postimees is not keen on the idea of minimum grades:
“The proportion of youths who [drop out of grammar school and] end up with just a basic school education is disgracefully high. This is a problem for parents and for job centres. It would be good if they learned to do something at a vocational school. But forcing them to go to a vocational school won't help, and certainly not by introducing minimum grades. What's really shocking is how bad a reputation vocational schools have. How are students and teachers at these schools supposed to feel? The standards at vocational schools have improved greatly since Soviet times. … We shouldn't support the creation of a social divide among youths. Everyone should be free to make the decisions about their future on their own.”
Vocational school not the end of the world
The proposal addresses the reality of the situation, writes journalist Joosep Tiks in Eesti Päevaleht:
“If there had been minimum grades when I was at school several of my classmates would probably have gone to a vocational school. And that would probably have been better for them and for everyone. 'Why should I learn all these formulas I'll never need?' That's what they used to say all the time. I expect they actually never did need those formulas. Nor to be able to distinguish [French painters] Monet from Manet. ... The future of youths who don't make the grade needn't be ruined by vocational school. They quickly gain an advantage on the labour market and can go to university later on, because you can learn a lot at vocational schools too.”