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**Escalating Trust Crisis: Teachers vs. Government**

Appearing on the Tuesday edition of ETV panel show “Impulss” were Kallas and Reemo Voltri, the head of the Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL), accompanied by Jaak Aaviksoo, a former education minister and university rector, and Martin Villig, the co-founder of Bolt and the Heateo Haridusfond educational fund.

The panel discussion took place on the second day of a nationwide teachers’ strike.

imageAll four panelists featured on the Tuesday episode of ‘Impulss.’ Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Voltri expressed his dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the situation, drawing a comparison to a school scenario by giving them a “double minus” grade for the prolonged teachers’ strike, the longest in Estonian history. He emphasized that the strike aimed to address inadequate wage increases for teachers, highlighting the core issue of salary concerns.

Martin Villig emphasized the need for a realistic approach, acknowledging that addressing teacher compensation involves more than just salary adjustments. He suggested modernizing the management culture, advocating for differentiated wage scales, and transitioning from a credit-hour-based system to one based on seniority.

Kallas, after meeting with teachers’ representatives, echoed concerns about workload, lack of perspective, and challenges in inclusive education, emphasizing that the issues extended beyond mere salary disputes.

Aaviksoo, currently conducting an audit at the Ministry of Education, characterized the strike as a consequence of long-standing issues predating the current coalition government. He urged all parties involved to address the root causes collectively.

imageKaja Kallas and Reemo Voltri. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Kaja Kallas highlighted that Estonia’s education expenditure as a percentage of GDP exceeds the European average, yet this investment does not translate into commensurate wage increases or improvements.

Voltri stressed the urgency of resolving the teachers’ wage problem to ensure the sustainability of the education system and the economy’s growth.

Aaviksoo emphasized the need for trust-building measures between stakeholders to address the crisis effectively.

imageMartin Villig. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Voltri underscored the importance of immediate salary adjustments to maintain teachers’ confidence in the negotiation process.

Kallas pointed out disparities in teacher salaries based on qualifications and advocated for comprehensive reforms to address systemic issues.

Aaviksoo proposed prioritizing teacher wages over infrastructure investments in educational institutions to tackle the core challenges effectively.

imageJaak Aaviksoo. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

In conclusion, the discussion highlighted the necessity of long-term solutions, collaborative efforts among stakeholders, and a strategic focus on addressing the fundamental issues plaguing the education sector in Estonia.

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