Andres Tennus

Student Renar Kihho: we must ensure that education is protected

Speech by 4th year student of medicine Renar Kihho at the ceremony dedicated to the 105th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia on 23 February 2023 at 12:00 in the assembly hall of the University of Tartu


Dear rector, mayor, award recipients, dear university members,  

On behalf of the students, I would like to congratulate us all on the upcoming 105th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.  

For more than 100 years, we have had our own Estonia. Our own Estonia, which has not succumbed to insidious deeds, to put it mildly, against our freedom, our values and our people. As President Konstantin Päts said, "We do not owe our freedom to the mercy of others, but have fought for it ourselves". Unfortunately, today, we cannot be so bold as to think that the fight is over.  

The security environment has been in a state of flux in recent years. Alongside military defence and diplomacy, we talk about security in the economy, information technology and the living environment. But let us not forget education – an asset that no one can take from us. Education gives us the values, skills, knowledge and proficiency to achieve security, but we must also ensure that education is protected. In the academic greenhouse, even the most dignified and vigorous plants will probably agree with the tiny sprout that the soil, which used to look fertile, needs more care and amelioration. We cannot expect decaying wood, even that of primaeval trees, to yield bright flowers.  

Good examples of how the student body of Estonia's national university has dealt with its security include the coin-jingling demonstration at the beginning of the academic year and the student canteen pilot project. We do not have time to keep on analysing and planning. Community-based joint action shows that our advantage lies in our masterful time management and the ability to mobilise quickly. We have understood that we need to act, and act proactively, to avoid wasting resources and losses in education and the security of the student body. We are part of national security. Evaluating the sense of security does not have to come to the university family through experience and lessons learned – I believe we can learn from mistakes and use the resources we have been given.  

The role of the University of Tartu in preserving Estonian statehood has undoubtedly been important and continues to be so. Maintaining the identity of the national university in the face of the changes around us is becoming a challenge: the structure of the organisation, bringing the community together, and developing and maintaining the capacity to offer what society requires. Luckily, our students are here to help!  

Thank you! I wish you all a peaceful Independence Day. Long live Estonia! 


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