Education system in Estonia

The history of Estonia formal education dates back to those times when the cathedral schools and the first monastic were founded in the 13th and 14th centuries. The oldest university in Estonia is the University of Tartu that was established by the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf in 1632. In 1919, the Estonian language was the only language that was used as a medium of instruction in the University of Tartu.

Compulsory Education in Estonia

The basic compulsory education in Estonia comprises of nine years and the school attendance for which is mandatory. Homeschooling is also allowed but it is very rare.

Algkool or the "beginning school" in English is the first three grades of primary school in Estonia. In some places where there is low density population the first three grades of the primary school, i.e. Algkool is the one and only school that is available and for further primary school, the students need to go to a bigger town.

Given below is the detailed age group of students according to their grades

  • First grade: 7 years to 8 years
  • Second grade: 8 years to 9 years
  • Third grade: 9 years to 10 years
  • Fourth grade: 10 years to 11 years
  • Fifth grade: 11 years to 12 years
  • Sixth grade: 12 years to 13 years
  • Seventh grade: 13 years to 14 years
  • Eight grade: 14 years to 15 years
  • Ninth grade: 15 years to 16 years
The whole education system of Estonia is based on four levels that include:

The Estonian educational system consists of private institutions, public institutions, municipal institutions and state educational institutions. Estonian education in today’s time can be divided into Hobby Education, Vocational Education and General Education.

Estonia has four different levels education

  • Higher Education
  • General or Secondary or Vocational Education
  • Basic Education
  • Pre-school Education

Higher Education in Estonia (University level)

The higher education in Estonia is the university level and that can be divided into three different levels
  • Bakalaureus level (Duration of 3 to 4 years)
  • Master studies level (Duration of 2 years)
  • Doctoral or Doktoral studies (Duration of 3 to 4 years)

The Bakalaureus Level

The duration of the Bakalaureus level of studies is for 3-4 years and it aims at to develop skills in the selected work area and theoretical knowledge. Students are awarded with a certified diploma known as the Bakalaureusekraad. The students after getting the certificate can work in a position which requires high level specialist qualifications.

The Master Level

The master or the Magister level is the 2nd stage of higher education and has duration of two years. In the master’s level the students are trained with more advanced theoretical knowledge. The specialized knowledge of the students is further developed and all the skills that are required for further doctoral studies are acquired. With the completion of the course the students are awarded with a diploma called Magistrikraad.

The Doctoral Level

The Doctoral or the Doktoral study is the highest level of higher education and has duration of 3-4 years. The students carry out their research by acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge. The pursue Doktoral study in Estonia; the minimum qualification required is a Magistrikraad or an equivalent qualification. Doktorikraad are given to all students who successfully complete the Doktoral study. The candidates are required to defend their doctoral thesis, to attain the research degree.

Vocational Education in Estonia

The Estonian vocational education institutions can be divided into two types
  • Institutions of Vocational education (Basic school based)
  • Vocational level education institutions (Post Secondary)

Vocational level education institutions (Post Secondary)

The Vocational Education in Estonia aims at to prepare students to work in various fields. The duration of the vocational program is for 3 years and should be of sixteen - nineteen age groups.

Some important categories that are included in the vocational education in Estonia are:
  • Catering workers
  • Forest workers
  • Process workers
  • Electricians
  • IT workers
A certificate is awarded to students, with the help of which they get a suitable job in various fields.

Vocational level education institutions (Post Secondary)

The students between the age group of 19-22 years can pursue in Vocational education (Post Secondary) institutions. Students obtain a certificate after their post secondary vocational program. There are forty five institutes of vocational studies in Estonia and out of which 11 are private vocational schools, 3 are municipal vocational schools and 31 are state vocational schools.

General or Secondary Education in Estonia (From Grades 10 to 12)

The duration of the secondary or general education is 3 years and the age level is from sixteen to nineteen years. The general education is offered by some of the gymnasiums and others focus on the specific field. The secondary and general education branches are
  • Humanities: The Humanities include classical languages such as France, German and English

  • Mathematical-Scientific

  • Economical and social-scientific: It includes social studies, business informatics and economics.

  • Gymnasiums for adults: Gymnasiums is for adults and it includes both part time and full time study.
There are five graduation final examinations that are held at the end of the secondary level:
  • English Language
  • Mathematic
  • Can be Chosen from foreign language, geography, history, chemistry, physics or biology
  • Mother tongue (Estonian or Russian)
  • Can be chosen
After finishing the secondary school final examination, the students are awarded with the Secondary School Leaving Certificate, which makes a student eligible to pursue higher education.

Basic Level of Education in Estonia (From Grades 1 to 9)

The duration for basic education in Estonia is nine years. From seven to sixteen age groups, one can attend basic education. There are three final examinations that are held at the end of basic level of education:
  • Can be chosen from foreign language, history, geography, physics, chemistry or biology
  • Mathematics
  • Mother Tongue (Estonian or Russian)
After passing the students are given the Basic School Leaving certificate.

Pre-School in Estonia

The duration for pre-school is just 1 year and children between the age group of 6 – 7 years attend pre-school level in Estonia. It offers such type of education where are students are benefitted to steadily advance in class until they can complete it. The pre-schools prepare the student and make them eligible to attend basic education.
  • Pre School Education
  • Basic Education
  • Vocational/ general/Secondary Education
  • Higher Education

Academic Year in Estonia

The academic year in Estonia can be divided into the spring term and the autumn. The academic year begins in the month of September and it ends in June first half. From September to December is the autumn term and in the month of January the examinations are held. From January end or from the first week of February to the last week of May is the spring term in Estonia, the examinations are being held in June end. The students in Estonia get holidays of at least eight weeks each year.
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