101 years of school in Vana-Võidus

Date created 02.04.2022

The birth of the Republic of Estonia gave us the opportunity to determine our own destiny. The manors were given to the people. A school of agriculture was founded in the Vana-Võidu von Stryki manor with the approval of the republican government.

On January 13, 1921, Mr Eduard Kullasepp gave the first lessons to 18 students who had been accepted into the school.

The birth of the Republic of Estonia gave us the opportunity to determine our own destiny. The manors were given to the people. A school of agriculture was founded in the Vana-Võidu von Stryki manor with the approval of the republican government. August Usin, an agronomist by training, who had previously worked as a teacher at the Aleksandr Agricultural School in Olustvere, was elected as the first director in 1920. He was instructed to start teaching on 1 November 1920. However, the start was delayed because the army, which had taken possession of the manor, did not vacate it by November. After intensive correspondence between the county administration and the military leaders and the government of the republic, the manor was handed over to the county administration on 8 January 1921. And on January 13, 1921, the school started!

The story of the school in the first 20 years of Estonian independence was a complicated one. A shortage of students, the army's stubbornness, fires, bankruptcies, etc. made it impossible to maintain the school at a good level.

In May 1921, the army took back the manor. In the spring of 1923, at the instigation of the county government, the head of state, Konstantin Päts, ordered that Vana-Võidu Manor be returned to the county government for the re-opening of the agricultural school. On 16 October, Karl Tõnnis was appointed acting director. Under his direction, a one-year elementary agricultural school was opened in Vana-Võidu Manor, with 22 students enrolled. In the spring of 1924, the first class managed to complete their studies.

The clouds of worry gathered in the autumn of 1931. With few students, the school could not be managed, and on 28 June 1932, the government of the Republic decided to close the one-year agricultural school in Vana-Võidu, which had fallen into summer debt. Despite the efforts made, it was not possible to continue education in Vana-Võidu Manor. Efforts to open a 1-year domestic school in Vana-Võidu at the beginning of 1933 also failed due to lack of interest among the students.

In March 1933 a fire broke out in the manor's cattle shed. All the cattle and staple stock was destroyed, 1 pig and 3 piglets died. Arson was suspected. All the outbuildings were in ruins, the manor house was more or less in order.

The situation began to improve in the summer of 1934 when Konstantin Päts, the head of state, and Nikolai Kann, the Minister of Education, visited Vana-Võidu Manor. They promised to open a home economics school in Vana-Võda. In the autumn of 1935, the Government of the Republic decided to open a Secondary School of Home Economics in Vana-Võidus. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, the renovation of the buildings did not start and the school was not opened.

1936.a.30. On 30 June, the head of state Konstantin Päts decided to found a school of home economics in Vana-Võidus. On the proposal of the Minister of Education, he then adopted Decision No 480 'Establishment of the Vana-Võidu Home Economics School'. The manor was handed over from the county government to the Ministry of Education on 1 April 1937. The building project for the conversion of the manor house into a school was completed on 29 July 1937. For the reconstruction 50 000 kroons were allocated. The manor house was rebuilt as a double school with central heating and electricity.

The occupation-era government of the Estonian SSR decided to bring Vana-Võitu to the Särevere Home Economics School and to rename it Vana-Võidu Home Economics School. In December 1940, the decision was implemented. Maria Tärn, the head of the Särevere Home Economics School, became the head of the school. A 1-year school of home economics and a 3-year higher school of home economics were started.

During the German occupation, the manor passed into the hands of the German army and was converted into a soldiers' rest home. The school was moved to the Olustevere Farming School. The metal handrails of the manor house were taken to be used for casting bullets.

At the end of the war, after the German army had left and the Soviet troops had entered, the third Soviet occupation of Estonia (1944-1991) began. The school moved back to Vana-Võu in February 1944. A shattered school was found there. Dirt, broken fixtures, etc. The school principal recalls: "The fleas were jumping like grasshoppers, there was no electricity, the toilets were blocked, there was no money. Teaching was by the light of lamps and candles, water was pumped by hand. We made wood in the woods for heating."

From 1944 to the present day, vocational education has been provided continuously in Vana-Võidus. In December, the Technical School of Home Economics was opened with a 3-year course. In June 1945, the school was transformed into the Technical School of Technical Cultures. In May 1947, the school was reorganised into the Vana-Võidu Livestock Technical School. The name changes also give an indication of the specialisations taught.

The school developed rapidly. The directors Mihkel Talu, Uno Tombak and Heldur Koolmeister led the Vana-Võidu Animal Husbandry Technical School to become one of the best technical schools in the USSR. In the autumn of 1964, the school was renamed in honour of the first Soviet cosmonaut - the Yuri Gagarin Demonstration Space Technical School. The sovhoostehnikum was successful in its activities and so in 1976 a major renovation was undertaken. Two wings were added to the manor house: classrooms, a canteen and a hall.

Estonia's regained independence also brought changes to the education system. The school was renamed Vana-Võidu Technical School. In 1992, under the leadership of Director Lembar Kivistik, the Technical School became Vana-Võidu High School of Agriculture.

In 1999, the Viljandi Combined Vocational School was formed by the merger of three schools, Viljandi Vocational School, Vana-Võidu Higher Agricultural School and Viljandi Learning Centre, located in Vana-Võidu. The director, Margus Ojaots, was tasked with organising the school's restructuring - the animal husbandry specialisations went to Särevere, horticulture to Olustvere, and the construction, car repair and secretarial specialisations, which had been in Viljandi, were brought to Vana-Võvá.

In 2004, Tarmo Loodus was elected to the vacant post of director. His task was to renew the school. In 2006, a new vision and development plan for the school were completed. In 2008, an architectural competition was held and an application for new EU investment period was prepared. 15 M€ were allocated to the school.

The first building to be renovated with EU funds, the school dormitory, was completed by Christmas 2010. Eviko rebuilt the dormitory, built in the 1970s, into a modern flat-type boarding house. There are 236 places. In addition, there are cafeterias, a gym, an exercise room, a band room, etc. The dormitory and gym were renovated the following year.

On 6 June 2014, the Minister of Education and Research approved the name of the school as Viljandi Vocational Training Centre, abbreviated as VIKK.

With financial support from the European Union and the Republic of Estonia, the school was rebuilt between 2009 and 2015: the cattle stables of the Vana-Võidu manor were converted into the school's new main building, the outbuildings of the manor house were demolished and the façade renovated, the halls of studies building was constructed, the student dormitory was renovated, a slippery track for heavy vehicles was built, and all the teaching technology was upgraded. A photo of the school staff with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves to commemorate the opening day.

Today's school is a modern school for technology education. There are about 800 students in vocational training and about 700 in continuing education. In 2022, we will start the restoration of the manor house, and in 2023 we hope to renovate the interior of the sports hall.

On 14 August 2021, the 100th anniversary of the school was celebrated with an alumni gathering. All the students of Viljandi and Vana-Võidus vocational schools were invited. The next alumni meeting will take place on 16 August 2025.

Last changed 02.04.2022.

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