For many hundreds of years, Estonians were peasant farmers. It was not a career path that they chose. It was imposed upon them by the conquering crusaders. those crusaders became the Baltic German nobility and the conquered locals, serfs. Literacy rates among Estonians were very low until the late 19th century.
Things went a bit bonkers in the early 20th century. First came the great war and then the bolshevik revolution. This enabled the Estonians to rise up, fight a war of independence and start governing themselves. heady times!
Sadly, they had very little money and lots of problems. But the very first thing that the new Estonian government funded was the erection of school buildings around the country. They knew all too well the importance of getting an education.
It was true then and it is true today. Indeed, with technology, getting educated is more important than ever. The odd thing is that we do not think very much about how we should build our education capacity. How to do a better job of producing educated young people. Even in the US, with all of its wealth, there is a disconnect.
This poses an interesting challenge to anyone interested in promoting “knowledge-based societies. What is the foundation?