The Open Estonia Foundation (OEF), a charitable foundation established in 1990 with the help and funding of Georg Soros, made a remarkable contribution to eLearning especially in the early stages during the 1990s. OEF funded several extensive educational projects promoting ICT infrastructure in schools and universities as well as teacher training with a budget of about € 300,000.
The present Estonian eGovernment strategy is closely linked to two previous policy documents:
Principles of the Estonian IST Policy approved in May 1998
Principles of the Estonian IST Policy 2004-2006 approved in the spring 2004
Today however, the main responsibility of implementation of services for eLearning is in the hands of non-profit organisations – Estonian Information Technology Foundation and Tiger Leap Foundation. The activities of both institutions are based on special programs with respective budgets.
Since 2004, Tiger Leap Foundation, a partner in the European Schoolnet, is coordinating and funding several EC educational programs: eTwinning, Springday Europe and Netdays Europe among others. New challenges for the foundation are promoting design and technology as well as media studies in Estonian schools.
Estonia has proved to be an ICT success story. All schools had computers by 2000. By the start of 2003, 98 per cent were also connected to the Internet.
ICTs have been integrated into the curriculum, as a subject and a tool for teaching other subjects. Over 100 software packages have been created in Estonian, covering history, culture, and nature. The Estonian Educational and Research Network (EENet) was created in 1993 as a nationwide scientific and educational computer network. By 2003, over 200’000 researchers, students, and teachers used the network and 455 institutions had a permanent connection.
Estonia has also been successful in e-government and ranks 19th out of 191 countries in the UN’s global e-government report 2005, higher than any other Central or Eastern European nation.
The Government comprised some 64 public agencies staffed by 21’400 people in 2003. Nearly all staff needing a PC with Internet access have it. Estonia ranks fourth in the EU for interactive government services, while three-quarters of all Estonian Internet users file their income taxes online.