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Defining Participatory Democracy and Development of Digital Competence in School Education (EE0047)



Action Plan: Estonia’s Third OGP Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive


Lead Institution: Ministry of Education and Research

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication, Foundation Innove, Information Technology Foundation for Education, Government Office, universities; Interested citizen initiatives, teachers, school administrators, students

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Education, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Estonia End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Estonia Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i



Description of the current situation or problem resolved with the commitment An open and engaging policy presumes the development of the social and ICT knowledge and skills of all citizens and especially the younger generation, in view of the opportunities of the information society and the e-state. To attract IT interest in the youth, both the Government of the Republic and the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL) have launched several initiatives. At the same time, the youth’s skills in using the opportunities of the e-state for exercising their civic rights and duties have received little attention so far. Several studies on the impact of users of e-services and lowering the voting age of the youth show the passiveness of Estonian youth in comparison with the young in other countries. Main aim School education supports the defining of participatory democracy in the context of modern open governance and obtaining the necessary digital competences for coping in the information society. Short description of the commitment (max 140 characters) In the development work of the subject syllabi of social subjects between 2016 and 2018 the Ministry of Education and Research shall consult with the respective interest groups, incl. civil society organisations. The interested parties, non-governmental organisations etc. shall submit their proposals for supplementing/renewing the learning aims and learning outcomes of the field of social subjects in accordance with the general part of the syllabus.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 9: Defining participatory democracy and development of digital competences in school education

Commitment Text:

In the development work of the subject syllabi of social subjects between 2016 and 2018 the Ministry of Education and Research shall consult with the respective interest groups, incl. civil society organizations. The interested parties, non-governmental organizations, etc. shall submit their proposals for supplementing/renewing the learning aims and learning outcomes of the field of social subjects in accordance with the general part of the syllabus.


9.1. The subject syllabi of social subjects will be updated by 2019 and the study materials necessary for studying and teaching will be made available through the digital study resources portal e-Koolikott.

9.2. Plans of the drafts of syllabi will be ready.

9.3. According to the national syllabus, the schools must prescribe the development of their students, including digital competences, in their syllabi. Foundation Innove advises schools in developing their syllabi.

Responsible Institution: Ministry of Education and Research

Supporting Institutions: Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication, Foundation Innove, Information Technology Foundation for Education, Government Office, universities, interested citizen initiatives, teachers, school administrators, students

Start Date: 1 January 2016           

End Date: 31 December 2019

Commitment Aim

This commitment sought to foster participatory democracy by improving Estonian pupils’ competencies related to democratic citizen participation and the use of ICTs. To this end, the Ministry of Education and Research committed to updating the syllabi of social science subjects taught at the basic and secondary school level, consulting CSOs and interest groups in the process. Advisory activities were meant to support the use of the syllabi and to develop teaching materials for the digital learning portal e-Koolikott.


Midterm: Limited

Although some related work had already begun before the start of the action plan, the IRM Progress Report documented only limited implementation of this commitment. By the midterm, the Ministry of Education and Research had formed a special model for digital competencies and a working group of two teachers and two researchers to develop the concept notes for social science subject syllabi. The actual development and advisory work and consultations with civil society and interest groups had not started.[Note 67: Please see the IRM progress report 2016-2017 for more details.]

End of Term: Limited

At the end of the action plan period, the completion of this commitment remains limited. According to the government’s self-assessment report, some progress was made following the midterm evaluation, though none of the milestones were complete.

By autumn 2018, the expert group responsible for developing the syllabi of social science subjects produced an initial concept note describing the core competences and learning outcomes for social science subjects and was in the process of drafting the new syllabi based on this work.[Note 68: Pille Liblik and Kaisa Musting (Ministry of Education and Research), interview by IRM researcher, 22 November 2018] According to the Ministry of Education and Research, a few selected interest groups had been consulted in the process, including the Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations, the National Institute for Health Development, and the School Students Union. However, it postponed all broader stakeholder consultations to 2019.

According to Pille Liblik and Kaisa Musting from the Ministry of Education and Research, the delays in implementation are due to the logic and pace of an ongoing broader national-level reform in school curricula. This reform centers on a new conceptual approach to learning, which aims to give teachers more autonomy in developing their own teaching methods and practices and to foster democratic decision-making practices at school.[Note 69: See for more information] As the curricula of all subjects taught at school are integrated, the ministry did not consider it reasonable to start changing the syllabi for social science subjects before reaching an agreement on the overarching reform goals. Therefore, most of the actual work on developing the new syllabi (milestones 9.1 and 9.2) only started in 2018, in alignment with the process of reviewing the whole curriculum.

Regarding milestone 9.3 (advising schools), part of the milestone has been implemented. The Innove Foundation provides advice to schools on a needs basis to support the implementation of the digital competences model. However, all advisory activities regarding the adoption of the new syllabi for social sciences have been postponed until 2019–2020.

The government’s self-assessment report and the interviewed officials also highlight the recent introduction of the concept of human rights in general education as an achievement toward the goals of the commitment. However, as this activity was not originally part of the action plan, it is not included in the assessment of the commitment completion. 

Did It Open Government?

Civic Participation: Did Not Change

Estonia consistently ranks high in digital development.[Note 70: See, for example, the Digital Economy and Society Index 2017: ] However, evaluations of young people’s digital skills have found that youths’ understanding and use of ICTs for civic participation and interaction with the government remains limited.[Note 71: Cenely Leppik, Hanna-Stella Haaristo, and Eve Mägi, IKT-haridus: Digioskuste Õpetamine, Hoiakud ja Võimalused Üldhariduskoolis ja Lasteaias (Tallinn: Praxis Centre for Policy Studies, 2017), 5-11, ] This commitment aimed to contribute to an educational system and support participatory democracy by fostering digital competences of pupils. This would enable young people to effectively participate in civil society in the digital era. Although the impact of curriculum development on actual civic participation can only be observed and evaluated in the long term, the commitment also included the aim of involving civil society and interest groups in the process. In this regard, the commitment could have potentially contributed to open government practices within the time frame of the action plan. However, as the implementation was significantly delayed and has so far not involved notable stakeholder consultation and engagement activities, it has not changed government practices regarding civic participation. Moreover, some experts who have closely observed the process also claim that information about the progress of the commitment has not been available to all interested stakeholders,[Note 72: Kaarel Haav (Estonian Education Forum), interview by IRM researcher, 8 November 2018] thus limiting effective participation. The Ministry of Education and Research justifies this choice based on the logic of the curriculum development process – a broader debate on the syllabi of social science subjects is seen as yielding more fruitful results once a group of experts has formulated an initial concept note.[Note 73: Pille Liblik and Kaisa Musting (Ministry of Education and Research), interview by IRM researcher, 22 November 2018]

Carried Forward?

This commitment has been carried forward to the next action plan (Commitment 6 – “Develop attitudes towards and skills in participatory democracy”). Because the implementation of the commitment milestones was delayed, some of the same activities have been extended into the next action plan. The new action plan’s commitment focuses on the consultation and involvement of interest groups (including CSOs and youth organizations) in the development of the national research and education strategy for 20212035 and digital and democratic participation-related competences in school curricula. As expert groups finalized their work on drafting the concept note for integrated syllabi of social subjects at the end of 2018, the document will be opened up for a broader stakeholder discussion and input from January to April 2019, mainly through discussion seminars.


  1. Develop online public co-creation workspace

    EE0054, 2020, E-Government

  2. Pilot new co-creation methodologies and tools

    EE0055, 2020, Capacity Building

  3. Conduct open government workshops for local governments

    EE0056, 2020, Capacity Building

  4. Develop co-creation processes at the local government level

    EE0057, 2020, Public Participation

  5. Create guidelines to prevent unethical lobbying practices and conflicts of interest

    EE0058, 2020, Anti-Corruption

  6. Establish and train operators of confidential whistleblower hotline

    EE0059, 2020, Anti-Corruption

  7. Transparent and Inclusive Policy Making

    EE0048, 2018, E-Government

  8. Inclusive Policy-Making

    EE0049, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Riigikogu Transparency

    EE0050, 2018, Access to Information

  10. National and Local Government Action Plans

    EE0051, 2018, Public Participation

  11. Presentation of Local Public Services

    EE0052, 2018, Access to Information

  12. Participatiory Democracy Capacity-Building

    EE0053, 2018, Capacity Building

  13. e-Tax and Customs Board 2020

    EE0039, 2016, E-Government

  14. Reducing Bureaucracy and a Simpler State – the Zero Bureaucracy Project

    EE0040, 2016, Capacity Building

  15. Implementation of the Principles of Open Governance at Local Level as a Result of the Administrative Reform

    EE0041, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. More Inclusive Policy-Making on a Central Government Level

    EE0042, 2016, E-Government

  17. More Open and Transparent Law-Making

    EE0043, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  18. Increase of the Engagement Capacity of State Authorities and Participation Capacity of Nongovernmental Organisations in Policy-Making

    EE0044, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Intensify Participatory Budgeting on a Local Level

    EE0045, 2016, E-Government

  20. Increasing the Transparency of the Funding of Non-Governmental Organisations

    EE0046, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  21. Defining Participatory Democracy and Development of Digital Competence in School Education

    EE0047, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Visualisation of the Policy Making Process

    EE0016, 2014, Public Participation

  23. Upgrading Participation Channels

    EE0017, 2014, E-Government

  24. Improving Government Website

    EE0018, 2014, E-Government

  25. Standard for Information Requests

    EE0019, 2014, E-Government

  26. Early Notice on Policy-Making Processes

    EE0020, 2014, Public Participation

  27. Participation in Early Stage Policy-Making

    EE0021, 2014, Public Participation

  28. Early Access to Tax Policy Decisions

    EE0022, 2014, Fiscal Openness

  29. Better Feedback Mechanism

    EE0023, 2014, Public Participation

  30. Selecting and Funding Participation Projects

    EE0024, 2014, Civic Space

  31. Web Tool for Submission of Collective Memoranda

    EE0025, 2014, E-Government

  32. Civil Servant Guidelines for Participation

    EE0026, 2014, Capacity Building

  33. Training Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)

    EE0027, 2014, Capacity Building

  34. Central Government Transactions

    EE0028, 2014, E-Government

  35. Local Authorities' Transactions with Private Entities

    EE0029, 2014, Civic Space

  36. Public Spending for Non-Profits

    EE0030, 2014, Civic Space

  37. Guidelines for Citizen Budgeting

    EE0031, 2014, Capacity Building

  38. Guidelines for Redesigning Public Services

    EE0032, 2014, E-Government

  39. Registry of Public Services

    EE0033, 2014, Access to Information

  40. User-Centric Public Services

    EE0034, 2014, E-Government

  41. Access to e-Services for Non-Residents

    EE0035, 2014, Citizenship & Immigration

  42. Open Data Portal

    EE0036, 2014, Access to Information

  43. Opening Data

    EE0037, 2014, Access to Information

  44. Supporting Nongovernmental Open Data Use

    EE0038, 2014, Access to Information

  45. Drawing up a Green Paper on Organisation of Public Services

    EE0001, 2012,

  46. Implementation of the Eesti.Ee Action Plan

    EE0002, 2012, E-Government

  47. Drawing up a Green Paper on Making Public Data Available in a Machine-Readable Form

    EE0003, 2012, E-Government

  48. Creating a Repository of Public Data

    EE0004, 2012, E-Government

  49. Launching Pilot Projects of Public Data Services Based on the Cloud Technology

    EE0005, 2012, E-Government

  50. Interactive Guidelines and Training in Implementation of the Good Practice of Public Engagement

    EE0006, 2012, Public Participation

  51. Launch of the Impact Assessment System

    EE0007, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  52. Overview of Ministries’ Work Processes

    EE0008, 2012, Capacity Building

  53. Integration of Impact Assessment Into the Process of Public Engagement

    EE0009, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  54. Creation of a Database of Declarations of Economic Interests

    EE0010, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  55. Adjustment of the System of Funding Non-Profit Associations and Establishment of a Disclosure System

    EE0011, 2012, Private Sector

  56. Starred commitment Drawing up a Proposal for Drawing up an Anti-Corruption Strategy

    EE0012, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  57. Draft Anti-Corruption Act

    EE0013, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  58. Establishment of the Public Ethics Council

    EE0014, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  59. Organisation of Ethics Training for Employees of Various Public Sector Organisations (Incl. Public Servants)

    EE0015, 2012, Capacity Building

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