Haapsalu Vocational Education and Training Centre – a joint project of the local community
The story of our school begins in 2002, when Estonia had a new development plan for vocational education and the Ministry of Education had excluded vocational education in Lääne County from its thoughts as well as its budgetary plans. The Taebla Vocational Secondary School was erased from the map. However, the local community did not agree with this. People came together and decided that vocational education in Lääne County must be preserved and a new school must be established, located in Haapsalu or its close proximity. The foundation Vocational Education in Western Estonia was established, a concept and strategy were developed. Entrepeneurs, Lääne County Association of Local Authorities, Haapsalu, Ridala rural municipality, county government, development centre and the vocational school´s team – everybody did their very best for the birth of a new school.
Saving vocational education became a big community project and due to the strenuous efforts of everyone involved, the idea began to gain more and more supporters. The understanding that the Lääne County needs a new school to get a fresh start finally reached the decision-makers beyond the county borders. And so the decision was made, thanks to the community’ s simple and clear message – Lääne County needs a modern vocational education centre which would offer top quality vocational training and provide local enterprises with skilled employees. 29 October 2004 went down in history as the day an agreement was signed between the State Real Estate Ltd and the Ministry of Education and Research to establish the Haapsalu Vocational Education and Training Centre in Uuemõisa. The birth of the new school could be witnessed by everyone at the opening ceremony on 5 September 2005. Although the school was initially planned for 400 students, almost 500 students began their studies in the first year. There is absolutely no doubt that the decision was right. Our school has proven to be necessary and during its dozen years of activity, the Haapsalu Education and Training Centre has become a viable, successful, innovatiove, open and cooperating community school, offering vocational education in almost 30 specialities in 12 different fields to over 800 students. Our school is an important partner to regional enterprises and organisations as well as other vocational education institutions in Estonia and in Europe. Our cooperation network includes 18 European countries and each year, more than 50 students complete their traineeship abroad. Our reach has also become wider each year: while during the first years, our students were mostly the youth and adults of Lääne County, now almost 50% come from other counties, especially Harju County and Tallinn. We also offer good studying and living conditions for students with special needs. The proportion of adult learners has grown each year – they come to study a new speciality or to improve their knowledge and skills at our refresher courses. In addition to offering formal education, our school has become an important and popular training centre, offering a wide selection of professional and hobby courses.
The quality of the education we provide is attested by our students’ accomplishments in national and European vocational competitions. In addition, our students have successfully represented Estonia in international competitions. Most prizes have been brought back from competitions in cooking, restaurant service and hotel receptioning, but in recent years the students of IT, cabinetmaking and construction have also been successful.
We have an active student representation, good conditions for sports and leisure time activities, and two student homes.
But our most valuable treasure is made up of all our students and the people who work here.