Success and problems of Estonian youth

Pavel Smulski, Ruta Pels and Denis Poljakov, Estonia

Estonia is the leading education nation in Europe, best in PISA tests, country became a role model for digital education and remote learning. Estonian government and schools have made ICT work for education and they have a number of solutions that fully support distance learning.

Success of the digital transformation of Estonian education system relies on thorough professional development and training of teachers and educational technologists. Today, the Estonian school is mostly in the cloud. 100% of schools use e-school solutions (i.e. eKool, Stuudium). These innovative tools provide an easy way for parents, teachers and children to collaborate and organize all the information necessary for teaching and learning.

Unfortunately, some of the country’s historical and economic characteristics have a profound effect on young people. As of January 1, 2016, there were 283,350 young people in Estonia between the ages of 7 and 26, which is 21.54% of the country’s population. And there are many serious problems in the life of the new generation.

In Estonia, salaries are lower than in Western Europe. The only two sectors that are considered promising and well paid in the country are management and information technology, but not all specialists can find a job in these areas. Therefore, one of the country’s main problems is the outflow of young people to the more prosperous countries of the European Union.

In search of money, more and more young people are addicted to gambling. The Estonian Ministry of Finance found that over the past two years, young people aged 20-29 have gambled the most, but the number of players aged 15-19 is growing rapidly. We have to note that the casinos are not banned in Estonia, moreover, many young people gamble online as well.

Drug addiction and HIV among young people are still one of the biggest problems in the country. Although the incidence has decreased compared to the beginning of the epidemic in the 90th of the twentieth century, it still remains several times higher than in the Northern countries. Overdose deaths in Estonia are still high the year. Unfortunately, Estonia still ranks among the top countries in the European Union in terms of the number of drug overdose deaths.

There are approximately 10,000 young men and women in Estonia who do not study, work or otherwise participate in public life. Dissatisfaction with previous work, mental disorders, problems with parents – these are just some examples of the problems that today’s youth have to solve. And the situation with the COVID-19 doesn’t contribute to solve this issue. Consequently, more and more young people stay alone, is what sociologists could call “crisis of the social link”.

To sum up – the spectrum of youth problems is very wide: these are problems related to personal life and work, mental disorders, outbursts of anger, as well as difficulties caused by debt, which does not allow young men and women to independently cope with the tasks they face in society. In addition, they may have various addictions and problems with compliance with the law.

Projects, such as Erasmus+, can help to address and solve these issues by increasing the mobility of youth, including those with fewer opportunities and boosting their personal and professional skills. Young people can meet their peers from abroad, discuss their needs and challenges and see the possibilities how to cooperate and make the future brighter.