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TALLINN – In remarks on the occasion of the start of the new school year, Estonia's Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps said that it is the mission of state gymnasiums to provide good education and novel methods of teaching.
"State gymnasiums have a mission: to offer high-level high school education with a diverse range of options everywhere in Estonia. The new gymnasiums are not only new buildings, but novel teaching and learning. In order for young people to have enough choices and a modern learning environment, the state will set up a state gymnasium in each county center and major city," Reps said according to spokespeople for the Ministry of Education and Research.
Unlike regular high schools, which normally operate under the same roof with basic schools and are run by the municipality, state gymnasiums are financed by the government and only teach grades 10-12. The aim of the network of state gymnasiums is to make secondary education of a quality equal to that offered by high schools in the major cities available in all regional centers across Estonia.
This fall, three new state gymnasiums will open in Rapla, Paide and the municipality of Viimsi bordering Tallinn, bringing the total number of state gymnasiums to 15. Of the three new state gymnasiums two -- Rapla and Viimsi -- operate in brand new buildings. The state gymnasium in Paide opens on the premises of the former Jarva county vocational education center.
The activity of each state gymnasium is based on a quality agreement by which the principal, teachers, students and the state agree about the results that the gymnasium will strive to achieve and the prerequisites enabling the creation of an appropriate learning environment.
The first county state gymnasium in Estonia opened in the county town Viljandi exactly six years ago.
A state gymnasium in the northeastern industrial city Kohtla-Jarve is set to open in fall 2019, and a state gymnasium at Tabasalu near Tallinn in 2020. Agreements have been concluded on the establishment of state gymnasiums also in Rakvere, Kuressaare, Narva, in the rural municipality of Saue near Tallinn, in Tallinn, and in the rural municipality of Rae, also near Tallinn.
The national school network development program calls for 24 state gymnasiums to have started work by 2023, including one in each of Estonia's 15 counties.