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Estonia:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

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Overview Estonia

Contents

Estonia:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Estonia:Historical Development

Estonia:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Estonia:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Estonia:Political and Economic Situation

Estonia:Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Estonia:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Estonia:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Estonia:Organisation of Private Education

Estonia:National Qualifications Framework

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Estonia:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Estonia:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Estonia:Funding in Education

Estonia:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Estonia:Higher Education Funding

Estonia:Adult Education and Training Funding

Estonia:Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Organisation

Estonia:Teaching and Learning

Estonia:Assessment

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Estonia:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Estonia:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Estonia:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Estonia:Higher Education

Estonia:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Estonia:First Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Bachelor

Estonia:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Estonia:Second Cycle Programmes

Estonia:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Estonia:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Estonia:Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Distribution of Responsibilities

Estonia:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Estonia:Main Providers

Estonia:Main Types of Provision

Estonia:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Estonia:Teachers and Education Staff

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Management and Other Education Staff

Estonia:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Estonia:Management Staff for Higher Education

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Estonia:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Quality Assurance

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Estonia:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Educational Support and Guidance

Estonia:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Estonia:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Estonia:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Estonia:Mobility and Internationalisation

Estonia:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Mobility in Higher Education

Estonia:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Estonia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Estonia:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Estonia:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Estonia:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Estonia:National Reforms in School Education

Estonia:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Estonia:National Reforms in Higher Education

Estonia:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Estonia:European Perspective

Estonia:Legislation

Estonia:Glossary

According to the Constitution, parents have a deciding say in the choice of education for their children.

Children who attain 7 years of age are subject to the obligation to attend school and remain so until they acquire basic education or attain the age of 17 years. A local government must create an opportunity for performing the duty to attend school and a parent must ensure performance of the duty to attend school, i.e., a parent must choose a suitable school for the child, ensure that the child attends school and guarantee conditions facilitating learning at home. Law specifies the roles and responsibilities of different parties and the measures for ensuring performance of the duty to attend school.

Before commencing studies in school, a child has an opportunity to attend a preschool child care institution. Additionally, child minding services mainly targeted at the youngest children are provided. Child minding services are provided in suitable premises, incl. at the home of the child or the child minder. Children with special needs who are up to 7 years of age may attend a regular group (integration group) of a preschool child care institution, a group for children with special needs or a preschool for children with special needs located in the catchment area.  

Preschool child care institutions are educational institutions. Teaching and education in preschool child care institutions is organised according to the curriculum, which complies with the national curriculum for preschool child care institutions.

In a preschool child care institution a child acquires preschool education, which provides the prerequisites for coping successfully in everyday life and at school. In order to assist children who do not attend preschool child care institutions, preparatory classes may be formed in preschool child care institutions or in schools. Participation in these groups is voluntary. A child may start school straight from home as well. Teachers of preschool child care institutions advise parents whose children do not attend a preschool child care institution in issues of teaching and education.

Basic education is the minimum compulsory general education. Basic education provides the prerequisites and grants the right to continue studies to acquire upper secondary education (in a general upper secondary school or vocational school) or to enter the labour market. Basic education is acquired in a basic school or upper secondary school which has basic school classes. Basic school includes grades 1–9. Attaining the basic education is based on the national curriculum

The length of general upper secondary education is three years, studies are conducted according to the national curriculum. In order to graduate from an upper secondary school, students are required to pass three state examinations, a school examination of the upper secondary school and a student investigation paper or practical work. Acquisition of general upper secondary education creates prerequisites and grants the right to continue studies to acquire higher education.

Vocational training is conducted according to the Estonian Qualifications Framework (EKR) level 2-5 curricula. With level 2 and 3 vocational training, the commencement of studies does not require the existence of previous professional competencies, also people without basic education can commence the studies. The study volume is 15-120 Estonian vocational education credit points (hereinafter credit points; the study volume for a year is 60 credits). The proportion of work practice and practical work in the curriculum is at least 70% in level 2 vocational training and at least 50% in level 3 vocational training.

In level 4 and 5 vocational training, studies can be pursued according to initial training and continuing training curricula. The prerequisite for commencing studies according to a continuing training curriculum is the acquisition of profession corresponding to the previous or the same qualification level or the corresponding competencies and level of education.  

Commencement of studies in level 4 vocational training requires the acquisition of basic education. A curriculum of vocational secondary education is a level 4 vocational training curriculum with a study volume of 180 credit points and proportion of work practice and practical work of at least 35%. Commencement of studies in level 5 vocational training or specialised vocational training requires the acquisition of secondary education; study volume is 120-150 credit points and proportion of work practice and practical work at least 50%.

The graduates from a vocational secondary education curriculum who wish to continue their studies at a university, shall generally pass the state examinations required for admission in the university on the same basis as upper secondary school graduates.  

Higher education may be acquired as professional higher education (in a vocational school, institution of professional higher education, educational institution belonging to the structure of university) or academic higher education (in a university). All persons with upper secondary education or foreign qualifications equal thereto have an equal right to compete to be admitted to the above educational institutions.

The standard period of study in professional higher education is three to four years (180–240 ECTS credit points); the standard period of study in obstetrics is four and a half years. A person who has acquired professional higher education has the right to continue his or her studies in Master's study under the conditions and pursuant to the procedures established by the board of the educational institution.

Academic higher education has three cycles: Bachelor's Study (standard period of study 3–4 years, 180–240 credit points), Master's study (standard period of study 1–2 years, 60–120 credit points) and Doctoral study (standard period of study 3–4 years, 180–240 credit points). The standard period of Bachelor's and Master's study is at least five years in total. In case of medical training, veterinary training, pharmacist training, dentistry training, architectural studies, civil engineering studies and teacher training for general teachers, study is based on integrated curricula of Bachelor's and Master's study, the standard period of which is five to six years and the volume is 300–360 credit points. The first two cycles of academic higher education study end with the taking of an examination or defence of a respective thesis and award of the degree. Doctoral study ends with the defence of a doctoral thesis and award of an academic degree.

In Estonia, adult education is divided into formal education acquired within the adult education system and continuing education.

An adult learner is not defined by age; instead, an adult learner is regarded as a learner to whom learning is not the primary activity. On these grounds, adult formal education refers to a study provided in the form other than daytime study to acquire basic education, upper secondary education or higher education.
Institutions that provide adult formal education are obliged to follow legal acts that regulate the level concerned (Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, the Vocational Educational Institutions Act, the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act, the Universities Act, the Private Schools Act).

Continuing education is defined as targeted and organised studies conducted under a curriculum outside the formal education. The continuing education institutions which wish to use state or local government funds or European Structural Funds, or wish to grant their learners study leave, shall submit the Estonian Education Information System a notice of economic activities.     

Additionally, through Estonian Education Information System, the continuing education institution shall make public the curriculum groups in which continuing education is pursued, the curricula on the basis of which an activity licence for conducting continuing education was awarded, details of the activity licence, contact information and website address of the institution. The website of the continuing education institution shall present the bases for the organisation of studies of continuing education, continuing education curricula, names of adult educators involved in the continuing education course along with a description of their qualification, education or professional experience certifying their competence, information on the activity licence issued for the provision of continuing education with the authorisation obligation, and the bases for ensuring the quality of the activities of the continuing education institution.  

Legislative References

Basic Schools and Upper secondary Schools Act

Vocational Educational Institutions Act

Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act

Universities Act

Private Schools Act

National curriculum for pre-school child care institutions

National curriculum for basic schools

National curriculum for upper secondary schools