Estonian Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas, emphasised in his lecture at TTÜ the importance of our alumni in the development of Estonia
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia, Jüri Ratas, visited his alma mater on March 6 and gave a lecture on public and administrative reform, focusing on current and future steps, and listing more rational, democratic and sustainable governance as the goals of the reform.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Ratas emphasised that the nature of our current Republic has been shaped very much by TTÜ graduates. "A lot of the key people in our private and public sectors have come from here, my alma mater. It shows TTÜ's deep footprint in the development of our country, and TTÜ is a very strong mark in Estonian society. I am also very pleased to thank Tallinn University of Technology for the higher education that has supported me all my life."
Rector Academician Jaak Aaviksoo introduced the lecture and said that Jüri Ratas is one of the two TTÜ graduates leading the Republic of Estonian republics, the second is Tiit Vähi: "Jüri Ratas is not only an alumnus but in addition to undergraduate and graduate studies he has also been a lecturer here."
Answering to the question of Rector Aaviksoo about free and paid higher education, Prime Minister Ratas said that the country is definitely trying to contribute more to higher education. "We have a lot of those who pay for their studies today in distance education and extramural studies. We cannot say that there is no paid education in Estonia. When it comes to undergraduate or graduate studies, it's a right moment now before the discussions of the state budget strategy to ask whether the country sees a chance to contribute more financially to higher education. I do not think that the transition to paid higher education would be the right way, but perhaps we will find ways to increase its productivity and effectiveness here."
The lecture focused on four topics: administrative and county government reform, state reform with emphasis on streamlining services and more effective support services, as well as the removal of state-paid jobs from the capital and the project of state buildings.
The wider goals of administrative reform are a more prudent, more democratic and more sustainable government; also, more balanced local and regional development.
The lecture gave an insight to the background of the accession negotiations and the peculiarities of merging the various municipalities. The prime minister reminded the hard disputes in Saaremaa, where, finally, a consensus was found that it was the best solution for the island. As a matter of interest, he brought out Setomaa municipality, where different parts of the municipality are not directly connected by the main land.
In the country's reform, it was important to organise services more efficiently: reorganising the school network is definitely one of the core issues of administrative reform. Prime Minister Ratas also emphasised the importance of removing state-paid employees and public sector structures from Tallinn, where the key issue is teleworking.
To complete the lecture, Jüri Ratas introduced the function of state-owned buildings - there are provided public services, and there are together several state agencies or state organisations.
The questions of the audience focused on the events taking place in the counties, for example, why there is a need for counties, as there could be 79 local governments. Questions came also about the role of municipalities and the possibility of using a ride-sharing service to organise public transport.