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Estonia Education Facts


The level of education in Estonia is high. The compulsory compulsory school lasts for nine years, from the age of seven, and almost all pupils go on to three-year high school or vocational school. There are Estonian and Russian language schools as well as mixed schools.

Estonia is high in the international PISA measurements of knowledge outcomes at school. Estonian schools are well advanced in IT development and since 2012, low-level students can receive computer programming lessons.

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One problem is that low teacher salaries hamper recruitment. It is especially difficult to get Estonian-speaking teachers to Russian-speaking schools in the northeastern part of the country.

In 1989, Estonia broke with the Soviet school system and introduced its own curriculum for high school. Thereafter, the education system has been reformed step by step. The government places great importance on everyone learning Estonian in order to be integrated into society and be able to compete in the labor market. Since 2011, Russian colleges must hold at least 60 percent of lessons in Estonian (or foreign languages).

During the Soviet era (1944–1991), Russian was a mandatory ester substance. Since independence in 1991, interest in Russian has dropped among Estonian students. High school diploma requires proficiency in English as well as in German, French or Russian. A lot of Estonian students read Finnish.

At Nuckö high school (Noarootsi Kool) outside Haapsalu, Swedish is a major subject. The school is located in the coastal area of ​​the Baltic Sea, which had a Swedish-speaking minority before the Second World War (see Population and Language).

Estonia has three leading state universities. The main one is in Tartu and was founded in 1632 by King Gustav II Adolf. The other two are Tallinn University of Technology and Tallinn University. In addition, there are a number of public and private specialty colleges.

At most higher education institutions, teaching is held in both Estonian and Russian, but only a small part of the students conduct their studies in Russian. The 2016/2017 academic year, 13 percent of first-year students at Estonian universities were Russian-speaking. Intensive teaching in Estonian can be given to Russian-speaking students and there are introductory courses where Estonian and Russian students use both languages ​​and learn from each other.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

93.5 percent (2016)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

11 (2016)

Reading and writing skills

99.9 percent (2011)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

13.0 percent (2015)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

13.0 percent (2015)



Arvo Pärt center will be built

March 23rd

An agreement is signed for a new building which will open the Arvo Pärts Center to the public in 2018. In the center outside Tallinn, Estonia’s world-renowned composer will archive her original manuscripts, and there will be an auditorium and a library.


Crisis for IRL

An opinion poll shows that the IRL government is supported by only 6 percent (Parliament has a five percent block). The Center Party gets 31 percent, the Reform Party 25 percent, the Social Democrats 10 percent, the Conservative People’s Party 9 percent and the Free Party 7 percent.


Rail Baltica

January 31

The Prime Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania sign an agreement on the construction of Rail Baltica, a rail link that will link Finland, the Baltics and Poland.

Estonia Best Colleges and Universities