Structure of Education in Estonia

The education system of Estonia consists of four different levels Pre-school Education, Basic Education, General or Secondary or Vocational Education and Higher Education. It has nine years of compulsory education in Estonia and it is mandatory for all students to attend basic compulsory school. For some special occasion even student are allowed homeschooling but that is very rare. Given below is the description of the 9 compulsory years in Estonia.
  • 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

School Education Structure in Estonia

  • Basic Compulsory Education in Estonia
    School Type: Basic School
    Duration: 9 years
    Age: 7 years – 16 years
    The students are awarded with: Basic School Leaving Certificate

  • Basic Vocational Education in Estonia
    School Type: Vocational Education Institution (Basic school based)
    Duration: 3 years
    Age: 16 years – 19 years
    The students are awarded with: Secondary Vocational Education Certificate that is based on the Basic Education

  • General Secondary Education in Estonia
    School Type: Secondary General School / Gymnasium
    Duration: 3 years
    Age: 16 years - 19 years
    The students are awarded with: Secondary School Leaving Certificate

  • Vocational Secondary Education in Estonia
    School Type: Vocational Education Institution
    Duration: 3
    Age: 19 years - 22 years
    The students are awarded with: Secondary Vocational Education Certificate that is based on the Secondary Education

The school education in Estonia can be categorized into 2 types:

  • Basic Compulsory Education (7 years to 16 years)
  • Secondary general education
Since the year 1993, the students are awarded with the Basic School Leaving Certificate on the successful completion of the basic education. With this the students can continue the second level of education which is offered in two streams and in three years of duration, they are:
  1. Gymnasium education or Secondary general school
  2. Vocational education
Further after being graduates from the secondary general education, the students are awarded with the Gumnaasiumi Loputunnistus (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) and are given the right to pursue higher education.

Once done with the secondary vocational education that is based upon the basic school education, the students are awarded with a certificate on completing Secondary Vocational Education Based on Basic Education. And who has done the vocational post-secondary programme for vocational secondary education that is based on secondary school education is awarded with Secondary Vocational Education Certificate that is based on Secondary Education.

The Vocational studies for higher education is a level of higher education that is offered by the secondary education and is based upon vocational institutions or by applied higher education institutions.

Higher Education Structure

The higher education institutes in Estonia comprises of universities and applied higher education institutions. Some post-secondary vocational institutions have got the right to offer vocational higher education since the year 1999. The duration for most college programmes in Estonia is 3 - 4 years. The Ministry of Education has the responsibility of the administration of institutions offering higher education or their programme of study. And the Private Institutions of Higher Education and their programmes are recognized officially after the accreditation.
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