Analyse and synthesis of the existing data

National initiatives Estonia

The digital revolution in Estonia started 1991, when the country freed itself from Soviet occupation. In 1992 Estonia had its first opportunity to establish an Internet link. As a result, the Internetisation of society was very sudden.

In 1996, the Estonian government established (with the aid of the Open Estonia Foundation, PHare and other EU programs) the foundation Tiger's Leap Project ('Tiigrihüpe'), whose goal is to provide schoolchildren with basic skills regarding Information Technology and to make sure that each of them has access to an Internet connection at school. This objective was attained in 2000, with an average of one computer for 25 schoolchildren. Tiger's Leap Plus is the successor project. Today all schools have an Internet connection and 88 % of pupils have access to the Internet at school. More information about the project may be found at http://www.tiigrihype.ee/eng/index.php

Achieving technological competency has been considered as a main goal of ICT education. In general, by the end of secondary school (school year 9), every pupil should be able to use the computer and the Internet at the level of end user (create and save documents, manage files, find information on the Internet etc). The results of official exams in 2002, 2003 and 2004 showed very good results. Internet use is common for young people (for example, only 12 % of age group 15 - 19 do not use the Internet at all), they are used to getting online easily and often without any fee (schools, public Internet access). Parental control over the Internet use is not common, but some schools do not allow using their computers for certain activities (games, chat rooms).

However, ethical and critical issues have not been taught as successfully as technology. In the national curriculum 2002 ICT and media education have been separated as two integrated themes, but even under the theme "media education" there are very few topics of critical reading. Research by Tarmu Kurm (The Estonian School Teacher's readiness to teach media as an integrated theme. Master thesis, 2004) reveals that teachers do not feel themselves to be competent in media or teaching about media. It seems likely, then, that young people can obtain very little adult guidance for orientating themselves in the flow of information.

Currently there are no reliable data about the situation of media literacy in Estonian schools. As an integrated theme, media literacy issues are taught or not in the way that schools find it possible. A research programme will be completed in June 2005.

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