Blog | 10 000€ Large Family scholarship went to Tartu

10 000€ Large Family scholarship went to Tartu

Meet the winner of the Large Family of the Year 2023 Award and the €10,000 scholarship – the 6-member Kalam family from Tartu County

This year's Large Family of the Year award and the 10,000-euro scholarship provided by Bigbank were awarded to the Kalam family who are raising four children in Vasula in the Tartu County. The winner was announced and the prize was presented on Saturday at the Large Family Day in the Tallinn Zoo that attracted more than 900 participants from 185 families from all over Estonia. 

A total of 64 families with four or more children from all over Estonia applied for the Large Family of the Year competition organised for the 13th time by the non-profit Estonian Association of Large Families. According to Aage Õunap, the President of the Estonian Association of Large Families, this year the selection of the winner was as difficult as before.

“This winning family is characterised by such keywords as hard work, dedication and youthful enthusiasm. The story of their loving large family confirms that children are not an obstacle, but a source of new energy and strength in the realization of personal dreams,” said Aage Õunap.

According to Jonna Pechter, Estonian Country Manager of Bigbank, the bank supports the Estonian Association of Large Families and the organisation of the Large Family Award competition and regards it as one of the cornerstones of life in Estonia.

“The mother and father of this year's Large Family of the Year value academic education and, in addition to raising a large family, have made a great contribution to teaching Estonian children and young people mathematics and real subjects from kindergarten to university. As a member of the jury, I am sure that they will make good use of the scholarship provided as part of the award for the family's joint activities, to support their children's hobbies and education, and to develop their skills."

The Large Family of the Year 2023 lives in Vasula, Tartu County, where motherBritt Kalam and father Kristjan Kalam are raising four children: Maria (6), Markus (4), Mattias (3) and Marten (1). Both the mother and the father have a background in science and a degree in science from the University of Tartu, or, as they themselves say, “we believe in education and science”. The father works as a researcher and a lecturer, the mother currently works at home as an analyst for a fintech company while raising the youngest child and also studies plant cultivation at the Olustvere School of Service and Rural Economy. 

Together, they have prepared and conducted mathematics preparation courses for upper basic school students and in 2017, in cooperation with the Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum, won the Museum Education Promoter of the Year award for interactive programs made for schoolchildren that introduce the links between sports, mathematics and physics. The mother has also developed and taught the kindergarten hobby group “Playful Mathematics” for several years and moderates an Instagram site “MaMaMaatika”, where she posts various tricks and ways to teach mathematics in a creative, engaging and real-life way. The family also encourages children to be curious and creative about the world, and to look for explanations and reasons for everything. 

According to Aage Õunap, the Large Family of the Year Award is an honor awarded to the family with children that is raising at least four children for respecting unity and having multiple children. The purpose of awarding the honorary title is to value and recognise healthy and strong Estonian large families with children and to make them an example for the society. “Large families with children are the most important foundation in every country and nation. It is important to notice and highlight the contribution of these good mothers and fathers to the society in especially difficult times,” said Õunap.

The Estonian Association of Large Families was founded in 1996. The Association is an umbrella organisation that brings together families with three or more children and its activities are based on valuing and supporting large families. The Association's network consists of 19 regional member organisations, which include more than 4,000 families with three or more children, in which more than 14,000 children are growing up.