After Estonia restored its independence in 1991, it started the vigorous modernization of its educational system, using information technology for the benefit of social development. The Tiger Leap Program was launched in 1996 by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Jaak Aaviksoo and Lennart Georg Meri. The program was built on three pillars — computers and the Internet, basic teacher training and native-language electronic courseware for general education institutions. In order to achieve these goals, the Tiger Leap Foundation was established in 1997.
The first step was to provide all schools with computers and internet access. All schools were provided with computers by 2000 and by the year 2001, all schools were connected to the Internet as well. The local governments, whose priority was to expand school computer systems, received financial support from Tiger Leap equal to what they could invest themselves.
Basic ICT courses for teachers were organized – in 1997 nearly 4000 teachers participated in the 40-hour computer basic training course, with thousands more in the next years. In 1999, new courses in electronic courseware, online information searches and preparation of educational materials were introduced.
Vocational and higher education
At the same time as in the general education schools, the possibilities offered by the IT era were tapped by vocational and higher education institutions. In 2000, the Estonian Information Technology Foundation was established. Over the next 12 years, the Foundation helped to implement the principles and spirit of the digital era in vocational and higher education and supported the training of highly qualified ICT professionals.