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Estonia Must Focus on Education After Euro Adoption, Ansip Says

Estonia must focus on raising the quality of its education through infrastructure investments and higher wages for teachers after the Baltic nation adopts the euro in January, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said.

Student loan limits should rise to an annual 3,000 euros ($3,654) and research and development investments must increase to 3 percent of gross domestic product, Ansip told his Reform party convention in Haapsalu, western Estonia, yesterday, according to the party’s website.

This is the first statement from Ansip on his priorities after Estonia won European Commission approval on May 12 to become the euro area’s 17th country. Ansip this month became Estonia’s longest-serving premier, with five years in office, and his public support has increased, opinion polls show.

“I’d like Estonia to offer the best education according to Nordic standards,” Ansip said. “Continuing with education reform is the key issue for next four years.”

Estonian 15-year old pupils ranked fifth among 57 countries in an international student assessment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation & development in 2006, the best in eastern Europe.

The average gross monthly wage in education was 10,587 krooni ($824) in the first quarter, compared with a national average of 11,865 krooni, the statistics office says. Research and development spending was 1.3 percent of GDP in 2008, compared with 0.8 percent in 2003, among the fastest-growing in the European Union, Ansip said.

Forty-nine percent of Estonians considered Ansip’s government “trustworthy” in March, compared with an average 42 percent in 2009, with 47 percent trusting the premier alone, compared with 41 percent last year, a poll by Turu-Uuringute AS showed. The next elections are due on March 6, 2011.

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