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Estonia

Participatiory Democracy Capacity-Building (EE0053)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Estonia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: The Ministry of Education and Research

Support Institution(s): Foundation Innove, Non-governmental organisations concerned, Tallinn University, University of Tartu, Estonian History and Civics Teachers Association, Society of Human Studies, regional subject sections, Estonian School Student Councils’ Union, publishing houses, etc.

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Education, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Estonia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Develop attitudes towards and skills in participatory democracy
Commitment Start and End Date
January 2016 – December 2019 (following the previous action plan)
Lead implementing agency/actor The Ministry of Education and Research
Other Actors Involved State actors involved Foundation Innove
CSOs, private sector,multilaterals, working groups Non-governmental organisations concerned, Tallinn University, University of Tartu, Estonian History and Civics Teachers Association, Society of Human Studies, regional subject sections, Estonian School Student Councils’ Union, publishing houses, etc.
Commitment description
What is the public problem that the commitment will address? Open and inclusive policy presumes development of the citizens’ attitudes towards and skills in democracy. This does not merely mean acquiring knowledge in lessons but also developing more comprehensive attitudes in schools.
What is the commitment? When updating the national curricula of basic schools and upper secondary schools and preparing the education and research strategy in 2018–2019, the Ministry of Education and Research consults with appropriate stakeholders, including youth organisations, to ensure the inclusion of skills necessary for participatory democracy in the strategy and curricula.

The interested parties (including non-governmental organisations) present their proposals to update the learning objectives and learning outcomes pursuant to the principles of the new concept of learning . .
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem? By knowing methods of participatory democracy, including possibilities of ICT, the citizens will have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to pursue open government and participate in it.
Which OGP values is this commitment relevant to? Civic participation
Additional information The activity was started in the previous action plan; the concept of integrated curricula of social sciences was completed. The development of the curricula began in 2018 and the process of developing the curricula is ongoing. The curriculum has been developed in an inclusive manner and various stakeholders have been consulted in the process.
Milestone Activity Start Date: End Date:
The working group of the field of study prepares and presents primary proposals for the updated learning outcomes. July 2018 December 2018
Consultations with stakeholders January 2019 December 2019

IRM Midterm Status Summary

6. Develop attitudes towards and skills in participatory democracy

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan [73]:

“When updating the national curricula of basic schools and upper secondary schools and preparing the education and research strategy in 2018–2019, the Ministry of Education and Research consults with appropriate stakeholders, including youth organisations, to ensure the inclusion of skills necessary for participatory democracy in the strategy and curricula.

The interested parties (including non-governmental organisations) present their proposals to update the learning objectives and learning outcomes pursuant to the principles of the new concept of learning [74].”

Milestones:

6.1 The working group of the field of study prepares and presents primary proposals for the updated learning outcomes

6.2 Consultations with stakeholders

Start Date: January 2016 (carried over from the previous OGP action plan)

End Date: December 2019

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to develop citizens’ skills of democratic participation and fostering attitudes that favor participatory democracy in school curricula. This commitment continues the previous action plan’s process of strengthening the component of participatory democracy in the syllabi of social science subjects. According to the initial timeline, drafting the new syllabi (in particular formulating new learning outcomes) should have finished by June 2018. However, since the government decided to develop a completely new national curriculum based on a new learning approach, the ministry integrated the process of updating the syllabi with the broader curriculum reform process. Therefore, some planned milestones were not achieved on time and the commitment was extended into the new action plan with a slightly changed scope.

Studies indicate a need for this activity: Estonians tend to be slightly less interested in democratic processes than their counterparts in other European countries, [75] and young Estonians exhibit only lukewarm interest in voting, while their participation in voluntary work and CSOs has stalled. [76] The Ministry of Education and Research aims to address these gaps by integrating participatory democratic skills and knowledge into the new curriculum and the new research and education strategy. The ministry also plans to carry out stakeholder consultations in the process. The planned objectives and activities contribute to solving the problem, although their effects will only manifest in the long term due to the inevitable lag of translating the new curriculum into actual teaching practice and young people’s new skills into actual government practice. It is, however, relevant to the OGP value of civic participation inasmuch as the curriculum is developed through a participatory process involving experts and stakeholders.

The commitment sets generally verifiable milestones but does not specify by which process stakeholders would be engaged. The lack of specificity on this aspect was raised in Section 9 of the previous IRM progress report [77] but has remained unaddressed in the new action plan. Based on the IRM researcher’s interview with Pille Liblik and Kaisa Musting (Ministry of Education and Research), [78] the ministry has a well-developed plan for conducting stakeholder consultations. First, the core principles of the curriculum development would be discussed in seminars with a range of stakeholders, including youth organizations, schools, teachers, parents, local municipalities, and so on. The resulting concept of learning outcomes would be emailed to additional interest groups for consultations. Feedback would be accepted by email and online via Foundation Innove’s (the ministry’s executive agency) curriculum portal. As the next step, Innove would involve schools and teachers through seminars dedicated to specific subject areas, including social sciences. The draft syllabi would then be edited based on stakeholder input, negotiated with the respective stakeholders in case of conflicting proposals, and the end result would be a draft legal act, which would go through a public consultation before final adoption.

The commitment also mentions fostering participatory democracy through a new research and education strategy but does not provide any milestones to address that issue. Based on information from Elo Tuppits (Ministry of Education and Research), the strategy process has started from experts (including youth organizations) developing three vision documents on the topics of values and responsibility, welfare and cohesion, and competitiveness. [79] The first two also involve developing youth’s civic participation skills. According to Tuppits, the next steps have not yet been decided but the development will likely continue in working groups.

Due to this commitment’s focus on the education system, its future impact on fostering participatory democratic values among youth may well be major. In the long-term, changes to Estonia’s education system could lead to a more informed citizenry and to a more participatory democracy. However, its potential impact on changing government practices in the near future is only indirect and will likely not manifest within the timeframe of one or even several action plans. That said, the collaborative model of designing the curriculum reform may turn out to be a valuable result on its own and could set an example for future reforms within and outside the education policy domain.

Next steps

Because of this commitment’s lack of immediate change to government practices, the IRM researcher recommends excluding this activity from the next OGP action plan. Although the education system may play an important role in strengthening democratic participation in the long term, the two-year timeframe of OGP action plans favors focusing on activities that can elicit faster changes in government practices. Nevertheless, the commitment’s effects on government practices could be increased by:

  • Implementing the ministry’s plan of broad-based stakeholder consultations in the curriculum development process, while remaining adaptable to stakeholders’ suggestions on involvement methods that would work best for them. Particular attention should be paid to using formats that allow people with disabilities to participate.
  • Promoting and sharing the good practice of stakeholder involvement more broadly among other ministries that implement large-scale reforms in their areas. Allocating sufficient time for the policy development process and the engagement of a range of experts and interest groups through diverse methods and channels all serve as good examples to follow. The Ministry of Education and Research could collaborate with the Government Office in disseminating best practices. The ministry’s engagement coordinator could also share this experience in the network of ministries’ engagement coordinators as part of the activities under Commitment 2.
  • Planning adequate resources for supporting the actual implementation of the curriculum. Kersti Kivirüüt (Foundation Innove; former representative of the Estonian History and Civic Teachers’ Association) notes that the new learning approach formulates learning outcomes in a very general way, which gives teachers freedom to decide on the teaching methods but also requires high professional skills from them. [80] According to Kivirüüt, having a new curriculum alone is not sufficient for developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes for participatory democracy – it is much more important to provide long-term support for the implementation of the curriculum at school.
[74] The new learning approach is based on the principles of supporting individual, personalized and activity-based learning, collaboration towards common goals, and autonomy, which gives schools, teachers and pupils more freedom to decide how the jointly agreed learning outcomes would be achieved. The approach emphasizes fostering democracy and participation not only in the curriculum but also in managing schools and designing classes. For more information about the new learning approach, https://www.hm.ee/et/opikasitus
[75] Standard Eurobarometer 88, Estonia national report, https://ec.europa.eu/estonia/sites/estonia/files/docs/st88_report_repee.pdf; Piret Ehin, Mare Ainsaar, Liisa Talving, Andres Reiljan “Eesti elanike suhtumine demokraatiasse” (2014), https://www.ut.ee/sites/default/files/www_ut/eesti_elanike_suhtumine_demokraatiasse_euroopa_sotsiaaluuringu_andmete_pohjal.pdf
[76] International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement (2016) International Civic and Citizenship Study, https://www.hm.ee/sites/default/files/iccs_2016_eesti_raport_lyhi_final_121217.pdf
[78] IRM researcher’s interview with Pille Liblik and Kaisa Musting (Ministry of Education and Research), 24 March 2019.
[79] IRM researcher’s email communication with Elo Tuppits (Ministry of Education and Research), 29 March 2019.
[80] IRM researcher’s email communication with Kersti Kivirüüt (Foundation Innove; former representative of Estonian History and Civic Teachers’ Association), 29 March 2019.

Commitments

  1. Transparent and Inclusive Policy Making

    EE0048, 2018, E-Government

  2. Inclusive Policy-Making

    EE0049, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Riigikogu Transparency

    EE0050, 2018, E-Government

  4. National and Local Government Action Plans

    EE0051, 2018, Public Service Delivery

  5. Presentation of Local Public Services

    EE0052, 2018, E-Government

  6. Participatiory Democracy Capacity-Building

    EE0053, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. e-Tax and Customs Board 2020

    EE0039, 2016, E-Government

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

    EE0040, 2016, Capacity Building

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

    EE0041, 2016, Capacity Building

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

    EE0042, 2016, E-Government

  11. More Open and Transparent Law-Making

    EE0043, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

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

    EE0044, 2016, Capacity Building

  13. Intensify Participatory Budgeting on a Local Level

    EE0045, 2016, E-Government

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

    EE0046, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

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

    EE0047, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Visualisation of the Policy Making Process

    EE0016, 2014, Public Participation

  17. Upgrading Participation Channels

    EE0017, 2014, E-Government

  18. Improving Government Website

    EE0018, 2014, E-Government

  19. Standard for Information Requests

    EE0019, 2014, E-Government

  20. Early Notice on Policy-Making Processes

    EE0020, 2014, Public Participation

  21. Participation in Early Stage Policy-Making

    EE0021, 2014, Public Participation

  22. Early Access to Tax Policy Decisions

    EE0022, 2014, Public Participation

  23. Better Feedback Mechanism

    EE0023, 2014, Public Participation

  24. Selecting and Funding Participation Projects

    EE0024, 2014, Civic Space

  25. Web Tool

    EE0025, 2014, E-Government

  26. Civil Servant Guidelines for Participation

    EE0026, 2014, Capacity Building

  27. Training Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)

    EE0027, 2014, Capacity Building

  28. Central Government Transactions

    EE0028, 2014, E-Government

  29. Local Authorities' Transactions with Private Entities

    EE0029, 2014, Civic Space

  30. Public Spending for Non-Profits

    EE0030, 2014, Civic Space

  31. Guidelines for Citizen Budgeting

    EE0031, 2014, Capacity Building

  32. Guidelines for Redesigning Public Services

    EE0032, 2014, E-Government

  33. Registry of Public Services

    EE0033, 2014, Open Data

  34. User-Centric Public Services

    EE0034, 2014, E-Government

  35. Access to e-Services for Non-Residents

    EE0035, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration

  36. Open Data Portal

    EE0036, 2014, E-Government

  37. Opening Data

    EE0037, 2014, Capacity Building

  38. Supporting Nongovernmental Open Data Use

    EE0038, 2014, Capacity Building

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

    EE0001, 2012, Public Service Delivery

  40. Implementation of the Eesti.Ee Action Plan

    EE0002, 2012, E-Government

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

    EE0003, 2012, E-Government

  42. Creating a Repository of Public Data

    EE0004, 2012, E-Government

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

    EE0005, 2012, E-Government

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

    EE0006, 2012, Open Contracting and Procurement

  45. Launch of the Impact Assessment System

    EE0007, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  46. Overview of Ministries’ Work Processes

    EE0008, 2012, Capacity Building

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

    EE0009, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  48. Creation of a Database of Declarations of Economic Interests

    EE0010, 2012, Conflicts of Interest

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

    EE0011, 2012, Private Sector

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

    EE0012, 2012, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  51. Draft Anti-Corruption Act

    EE0013, 2012, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  52. Establishment of the Public Ethics Council

    EE0014, 2012, Conflicts of Interest

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

    EE0015, 2012, Capacity Building