The educational system is not quite ready for computer-based training

4/29/2003 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 29 April 2003 - The SAO audited the implementation of the development plan of the program Tiger Leap Plus. The Tiger Leap Foundation has provided the primary facilities to this end: the teachers have received the minimum required training for using information and communication technology (ICT) facilities in tutorial work and the schools have computerised classrooms with an Internet connection. However, the Ministry of Education and Research has not linked the program to the educational strategy documents or created an environment, which would motivate both teachers and students to use the new technology for essentially changing the learning process. As a result, only a part of the potential created in schools is exploited.

The Tiger Leap program brought computers and Internet to the schools, but in 2001 to 2005 the Tiger Leap Plus program should create the preconditions for using ICT facilities as an integral part of the learning process in all Estonian schools. In 2005 the educational system should develop the educational community in a conscious and purposeful manner and help Estonia in becoming a competitive player in the global information society.

The studies show that using ICT facilities in lessons dedicated to specific subjects increases the students’ interest in attending the classes and is likely to reduce the number of those having to repeat the year and dropouts. The possibility of using a computer at school favours the development of the routine of lifelong learning.

By examining one aspect of the set of educational innovations – the readiness of the educational system to use ICT facilities directly in tutorial work – the SAO tried to answer the question why ICT has not already become an integral part of the learning process.

The introduction of new technology for the purpose of developing a comprehensive computer-based training process requires the teachers to be ready for giving lessons with the help of ICT, the ICT to be linked to the curricula and the availability of ICT facilities in the schools. The SAO highlights the essential role of teachers in this process. Until the Ministry has not established ICT competency requirements that the teachers have to meet or standards to assess the ICT competency of students or established common guidelines for the development of the ICT infrastructure of schools, it is very important that the teacher would give the students a good example by showing initiative.

Readiness of teachers

In the opinion of the SAO the teachers have received basic training, which allows them to start using ICT facilities on a daily basis. More than 10,000 teachers have completed the basic courses and the complementary courses for using ICT in subject-specific lessons. This number is to be supplemented by a further 4,000 to 6,000 teachers. The curricula of universities, which are the basis of learning ICT for future teachers, now include general informatics courses and courses concerning the methods of using ICT in subject-specific lessons. Unfortunately, in certain fields the educational institutions training teachers lack academic staff, who would be familiar with educational software and the methods of using such software.

Curricula and educational software

In order to make ICT an integral part of the learning process it is essential to establish a close link between the use of ICT and the curricula.

The Ministry has not paid enough attention to the problems related to the use of educational software and has failed to establish the objectives of and procedures for employing educational software in curricula. The relation of educational software with the national curriculum has not been defined.

The principles of the national curriculum for basic schools and upper secondary schools, which provide that ICT skills will be developed throughout all stages of study and the entire curriculum, are in accordance with the needs of the information society. Unfortunately, these principles have been applied only to a limited number of subject syllabuses.

In principle, only the syllabuses for the Estonian language, mathematics and geography allow developing ICT skills, since the other syllabuses only refer to the use of ICT facilities or ignore this issue completely (e.g. literature, chemistry, environmental education, history, music etc).

On the initiative of the Tiger Leap Foundation more than 100 articles of educational software have been either created, translated into Estonian or acquired. Priority has been given to software concerning the Estonian language, history, culture and nature. Now the Foundation should focus on developing educational environments in order to achieve the objective of using ICT in tutorial work on a daily basis.

ICT facilities

In the opinion of the SAO most schools have created the possibilities for computer training on an elective basis as well as for developing the ICT skills of students throughout all stages of study and all the subjects.

By the beginning of 2003 the number of schools enjoying an Internet connection had increased to 98 %, the schools of general education had 1 computer per 8 teachers and 1 computer per 27 students (for the period 2002 to 2003 the government had set a target of 1 computer per 20 students).

The average number of computers per student has not increased in the last three years, especially owing to the backwardness of Tallinn and Ida-Virumaa. In other municipalities this average number has started to reach a common level, approaching the set target. However, certain schools now suffer from disadvantages because of the lack of funds of the owner of the school (in most cases the local government bodies).

The SAO considers it a matter of concern that no solution has been found to the issue of how the ICT potential, which has been created in schools with the help of the Tiger Leap program, will be developed in a sustainable manner after the completion of the program.

From 1997 to 2002 a total of 215 million kroons have been allocated to the Tiger Leap program from the state budget. The local governments have contributed 120 million kroons and the sponsors have added a further 5 millions.

Sven Soiver
Press Representative of State Audit Office
Telephone: (372) 640 0787
GSM: (372) 53 414464

  • Posted: 4/29/2003 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 10/2/2015 5:56 PM
  • Last Review: 10/2/2015 5:56 PM

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