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The standard for basic education is established by the national curriculum for basic schools. General secondary education is a set of requirements established with the national curriculum for upper secondary schools. At the core of the national curriculum are general competencies, the development of which must be supported by the entire learning process. In addition to teaching and learning objectives of subject areas, the development of general competencies is supported also by the integration of subjects and study of cross-curricular topics.
Basic school: 1st-9th grades
The national curriculum for basic schools defines among the 8 general competencies a cultural and value competence. This is described as an ability to evaluate human relations and activities from the standpoint of generally accepted moral norms; to sense and value one's ties with other people, the society, nature, the cultural heritage of one's own country and nation and those of others, and events in contemporary culture; to value creation and shape the sense of aesthetics; to value general human and societal values, to value human, cultural and natural diversity; to acknowledge one's values.
Among the compulsory subject fields is a subject field „Art“. The objective of teaching subjects of the art field in basic school is to develop in students age-appropriate art competence: the ability to understand the diversity of arts, to reflect on issues of art and music; to value the artistic heritage of the local region, Estonia and the world; to see the relationship between the culture of different eras and modern culture; to use means of artistic and musical expression in personal and collective creative efforts, to appreciate their own artistic creations and those of their peers.
It is expected that, through art education, basic school graduates will:
- have acquired experience of creative activities and self-expression, recognize their creative abilities and value individual and environmentally-friendly approaches;
- use various visual and musical means of expression in creative work, discuss age-appropriate cultural messages and value judgments and are able to shape their opinions and express emotions through art;
- value culture and human creativity, participate in individual and collaborative art projects and appreciate solution-seeking and creative thinking;
- notice cultural traditions and global cultural diversity, understand the relative importance of music and art in present-day society, accept different cultural phenomena;
- value and maintain Estonian culture and the culture of ethnic minorities living here, feel responsible for the preservation of cultural traditions, see connections between the development of art and culture and science and technology in the past and present-day; and
- have an overview of the professions, occupations and further education opportunities associated with the art field.
The subject field of art subjects comprises art and music, compulsory at all stages of basic education. Art and music are taught from the 1st-9th grades. The design of required learning outcomes and contents in the subjects of the art field is based on the following division of weekly lessons between study stages and subjects:
- 1st Stage of Study Art: – 4.5 lessons Music: – 6 lessons
- 2nd Stage of Study Art: – 3 lessons Music: – 4 lessons
- 3rd Stage of Study Art: – 3 lessons Music: – 3 lessons
The compulsory subject „Music” aims that by the end of the basic school, the student would:
- derive joy from music and discern, realise and develop their abilities through making music;
- become interested in music as an art form and shape their personal aesthetic tastes;
- think and act creatively and also express themselves creatively through musical activities;
- apply the acquired basics of musical literacy skill in musical activities;
- value music and musical activities as they enrich people, culture and daily life;
- know and maintain the traditions of national culture, participate in the process of transmitting the tradition of song festivals and understand and respect different national cultures;
- comprehend and value the creation of pieces of music and take a critical attitude to the information technology and media-based environment;
- know prominent Estonian and local composers and musicians and value cultural traditions; and
- understand how interest in the field, musical abilities and knowledge can lead to the formation of a hobby or choice of a profitable profession.
The compulsory subject „Art” aims that by the end of the basic school, the student would:
- be able to use the skills of creative and critical thinking and problem-solving in creative activities, assignments, research and reflection;
- perceive and develop their creative potential, appreciate originality and different solutions;
- learn about the means of expression in visual arts and be able to create different works of art, using acquired knowledge and skills;
- experiment with ideas, concepts, tools, materials and techniques;
- work independently and in cooperation with peers;
- apply acquired skills in other school subjects and in daily life;
- learn about and value both art heritage and contemporary art;
- make connections between the development of art, culture, science and technology;
- regard art as a language of intercultural communication and comprehend cultural diversity and the role of art in society;
- express their opinions and knowledge in oral and written forms using specific (art) vocabulary;
- act in an ethical and safe manner in actual and virtual cultural environments;
- comprehend aesthetic, ethical, functional and ecological aspects of examples material and spatial environments and design;
- have an overview of the professions and occupations associated with the field of arts, design and architecture.
In addition, eight cross-curricular topics are defined in the curriculum, including cultural identity. The aim of the learning ender this topic is for the pupil to develop into a person who is culturally aware, who understands the role of culture in shaping people’s thought and behaviour and who knows how cultures have changed over history, who has acquired an idea of the versatility of cultures and particularities of lifestyles determined by culture and who values native culture and cultural diversity and is culturally tolerant and prepared for cooperation.
Upper secondary school: 10th to 12th grade
The national curriculum for upper secondary schools defines among the eight general competences, cultural and value competence. This is described as an ability to evaluate human relations and activities from the standpoint of generally accepted moral norms and ethics; to sense and value one's ties with other people, the society, nature, the cultural heritage of one's own country and nation and those of others, and events in contemporary culture; to value art and creation, and shape the sense of aesthetics; to value general human and societal values, to value human, cultural and natural diversity; to acknowledge one's values and take them into consideration when making decisions; be tolerant and cooperative and to contribute for achieving joint objectives.
Among the compulsory subject fields is a subject field „Art“. The objective of teaching art subjects in upper secondary school is to develop students’ art competence, i.e., cultural awareness, understanding of the variety of arts and cultural diversity of the world; basic knowledge of Estonian, European and global cultural heritage; appreciation of creative achievements in visual arts and music; the ability of critical and creative thinking; high regard for versatile self-expression skills, originality and readiness to find fresh solutions in changing circumstances; ability to use the means of art and music for individual and collective creative activities.
Upper secondary school graduates:
- see art and music as natural parts of life and understand the significance of aesthetic factors of these art forms in modern society and everyday life;
- explore and value the diversity of arts and their changes over time and in different places and cultures, see the connections between the development of art, culture, science and technology in the past and today;
- think and act in an informed and critical manner in the cultural landscape and express their opinions and emotions;
- are aware of their creative potential, realise their creative ideas confidently and competently and value their peers’ different ideas and solutions;
- know the diversity of cultural traditions, compare and value similarities and differences between cultural phenomena;
- value and maintain Estonian culture and the culture of ethnic minorities living here, perceive themselves as bearers of cultural tradition and;
- have an overview of the occupations, professions and continuing education opportunities in the fields of music and arts.
The compulsory subjects in the field of art subjects include music and art. The compulsory courses by subject are the following:
- Art – 2 courses: “Art and art history” and “Art and visual culture in the 20th and 21st centuries”;
- Music – 3 courses: “Development of modern musical expression”, “Patriotism in music”, “Music of the 20th and 21st centuries”. All courses include modules of “Musical self-expression: singing, instrument playing, original creation”.
The compulsory subject „Music“ in upper secondary school seeks to ensure that students:
- realise the possibilities of music and see its potential applications as a means to elaborate on, to influence and shape personal life and actions, as well as communication and the surrounding world;
- value music as an important part of human culture and perceive themselves as bearers of native culture; understand and value the social and political nature and educational meaning of the choir singing movement and song festivals;
- participate in musical life and have acquired readiness for musical performance and lifelong music activities;
- can critically listen to, analyse and interpret music and discuss it, use creativity in musical self-expression;
- are aware of and follow the rights and obligations associated with intellectual property and use modern information technology.
- take their peers into account and value cooperation; and
- have an overview of the professions and further education opportunities related to composition, interpretation, musical education, etc.
The compulsory subject „Art” in upper secondary school seeks to ensure that students:
- perceive the potential of art and see its applications as a means of interpreting, influencing and designing their personal lives and actions as well as the world around them;
- are familiar with the basic concepts and stages in the history of art;
- describe and compare diverse ideas and means of expression used in modern art;
- understand that art and visual culture are connected to social processes and other spheres of life;
- apply different artistic means of expression and techniques in creative self-expression, interpret and solve various problem assignments;
- value the surrounding living environment and visual cultural heritage, understand the innovative, human-friendly and ecological way of thinking; and
- have an overview of the professions and further education opportunities associated with the fields of art, architecture, design, etc.
In addition, eight cross-curricular topics are defined in the curriculum, including cultural identity. The aim of the learning under this topic is for the student to develop into a person who is culturally aware, who understands the role of culture in shaping people’s thought and behaviour and who knows how cultures have changed over history, who has acquired an idea of the versatility of cultures and particularities of lifestyles determined by culture and who values native culture and cultural diversity and is culturally tolerant and prepared for cooperation.
A large number of young people in Estonia develop their cultural and creative competencies taking part in hobby education and hobby activities.
Youth hobby education and hobby activities are long-term and curricula-based (hobby education) or short-term with no demand for curriculum (hobby activities) systematic and supervised engagements with one’s hobbies at one’s will outside formal education or job for acquiring intensive knowledge and skills in the selected hobby.
Both hobby education and hobby activity play an important role in the Estonian social and cultural context by promoting the cultural development and socialisation process of children and young people.
Hobby education is non-formal learning based on clear learning aims taking place in hobby schools. Each hobby school has its own curricula. According to the Standard for Hobby Education (passed 21.03.2007), the purpose of hobby education is to provide opportunities for the comprehensive development of personality and to support young persons in their development into members of society with good coping skills. A hobby school, as defined in the Hobby Schools Act (passed 21.12.2006, amended 01.09.2017), is an educational establishment operating in the area of youth work which creates an opportunity for the acquisition of hobby education and for the diverse development of the personality, including cultivation of one’s own language and culture, in different areas of hobby education.
Hobby activities can take place in various locations (mostly general education schools, youth centres, culture institutions).
Hobby education and hobby activity can take place in the following fields:
- general culture;
- music and arts.
According to the most recent research on hobby education and hobby activity (“Hobby education, hobby activity, and youth workers in local municipalities”, the Centre for Applied Social Sciences of the University of Tartu, 2016), an estimated 40% of all the Estonian young people from age 7 to 26 (total number of 106 658 people) were involved in the hobby activity and hobby education in 2016.
It is estimated that the number of institutions providing hobby education and hobby activity to young people is approximately 3500 including altogether 711 institutions that are providing hobby education. According to the research, every Estonian school has some kind of hobby activity opportunities for young people. Young people can also participate in hobby education or hobby activity in 571 culture centres and 924 civil or youth associations. The number of young people connected to some kind of hobby education and hobby activity is the biggest in the case of general education schools, namely 33.7%. 25% practises hobby activity in a youth centre, 15% practises hobby education or hobby activity in a hobby school, and 11% practises hobby activity in another cultural or social institution. Less than 10% of the young people practise hobby education or hobby activity in an association, culture centre and club. In terms of field of hobbies, 42% of the institutions are active in the field of culture and arts education: 15% music, 15% arts, 12% dance.
In Estonia, there are no guidelines for the recognition of specific cultural and creative competencies acquired through non-formal and informal learning.
Additional financing for hobby education and activities since 2017
In general, the hobby education and hobby activities are financed by local governments and parents’ contribution, the state budget supported until 2017 only priority-based projects.
In 2017, the Government proposed and the Parliament decided to finance additionally hobby education and hobby activities (amendment in the Youth Work Act, in force from 01.01.2018) from state budget with an aim to increase access to, variety and quality of hobby education and activities for young people between 7-19 years old. The annual support is 15 million euros. It is divided to local government budgets based on the number of young people taking into account the problems young people are facing in the municipality (the formula includes the number of young people with special needs, the financial capability of local government and the ratio of the number hobby opportunities and a number of young people). In order to use the support, a local government (or a group of local governments together) has to draw up a plan on how to increase the access to and variety of hobby education and activities provided. The first deadline to submit the plans was 1.09.2017. A vast majority of all the municipalities (a total number of 199 from 213 in Estonia) submitted the plan, of which 53 in a group. Now the deadline for submitting results and new plans is 15.01 annually and all municipalities have to present their plan. A web-based environment called Digilahendus was launched in 2019. During the years 2017-2018, almost 20 million euros was distributed to the municipalities. See more in Chapter 10.4.
Specialised training organised or funded by top-level authorities is available for fostering the acquisition of cultural and creative skills amongst young people to relevant professionals in Estonia.
There is a vast amount of formal education and addition training opportunities concerned with culture and creativity.
Most important higher education institutions, that provide formal education connected with culture and arts, but also additional training for professionals already working in the area (including teachers in formal education, educators and youth workers, professionals in the cultural sector) are the following:
- Estonian Academy of Arts – public university providing opportunities for higher education in fine arts, design, architecture, media, visual studies, art culture, and conservation.
- Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre - a public university of music and drama, offering higher education in all major fields of music and theatre through bachelor, master and doctoral programmes.
- The University of Tartu – a public university offering a large number of study programmes under the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and has a collage Viljandi Culture Academy specialising on education in different areas of culture.
- Tallinn University- a public university that offers studies in different areas of culture such as cultural theory, Estonian language and culture, cross-media in film and television, audio-visual media, film arts etc.
- Tartu Higher Art College Pallas (University of Applied Sciences) - applied higher education institution that educates professional applied artists and artists-restorers who value and preserve cultural heritage
In 2015, the Ministry of Education and Research initiated a specific programme “Development of youth workers training“ with an aim to raise the competencies of youth workers working in different areas. The programme reached its end in 2019 and it was supported by the European Social Fund. At the end of 2019, the Foundation Archimedes Youth agency (since 01.01.2021 the the Department of Youth Programs of the Agency of Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps of the Education and Youth Board) commissioned a study that was conducted by Civitta Estonia on the impact of the programme (ESF koolitusprogrammi "Noorsootöötajate koolituste arendamine" koolituste mõju-uuring). During the period 2015-2019, 249 different training activities were held and 5,157 youth workers participated (unique participants). Based on the research results, approximately 55% of the people working in the youth field have participated in the training activities.
The whole programme during the period of 2015-2019 cost 2,004,750 euros, from which 1,704,037.50 euros was financed by the European Social Fund and 300,712.50 euros by the state budget.
There are no very recent large initiatives with the aim of widening the access of young people specifically to the creative environment. The significant theme-year of Children and Youth Year of Culture was held in 2017, organised at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture and coordinated by the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre.
The year 2020 is called theme-year of Digital Culture and some activities are also directed to youth specifically. There is an initiative called Creative Tiger (Loometiiger), a digital creativity programme for children, which will be worked out in cooperation with HITSA (Information Technology Foundation for Education, starting from 01.08.2020 Education and Youth Department) that will give a digital programme for children and young people that schools will be able to use in order to teach creative fields in digital ways. No updates of the process are available in May 2020, so it is unclear when the programme will be available. Other activities held withing the Digital Culture theme-year are targetted to all residents in Estonia, and not specific to young people. Read more about the theme-year from Chapter 8.1.