Pre-school, basic and secondary education

General education encompasses pre-school education, basic education and secondary education. At all educational levels, academic work takes place on the basis of a standard state curriculum, on the basis of which each educational institution develops its own curriculum.

Pre-school education

Pre-school education creates the underpinning for successful advancement in everyday life and prepares children for school. Pre-school education can be acquired at a children’s institution intended for pre-school-age children. The types of children’s institutions are the following:

  • crèche – for up to three-year-old children;
  • nursery school – for children up to seven years of age;
  • special nursery school – for children up to seven years of age with special needs;
  • elementary school integrated with a nursery school (nursery school-elementary school with a common administration) or basic school (nursery school-basic school).

A municipality or city government may, as needed and at the behest of the children’s institution, establish integration groups, consisting of children with special needs along with other children as well as special groups to which children with special needs belong.

More about pre-school education can you read on the home page of Ministry of Education and Research.

Basic education

Parents are free to select a school for a pre-school-age child, but the child’s interests, abilities and the school curriculum should be taken into consideration. Pursuant to the child’s interests, the child may be enrolled in a hobby school as well.

Depending on the child’s health condition and individual development, compulsory basic education may be acquired:

  • on the basis of the national curriculum for basic schools;
  • on the basis of the simplified national curriculum for basic schools (students with a mild intellectual disability are taught based on the simplified national curriculum, students with a moderate, severe or profound intellectual disability are taught in classes for students with special educational needs).

Various characteristics can serve as the criteria when choosing a school:

  • form of ownership – state or private school;
  • previous reputation and contact with the school;
  • study options available at the school;
  • location of the school and safety of the route to the school;
  • selection of hobby groups;
  • qualification and level of the teachers;
  • teaching methods used.

More about basic education can you read on the home page of Ministry of Education and Research.

Secondary education

Secondary education is based on basic education and can be categorized as either general secondary education or vocational secondary education. General secondary education is acquired in an upper secondary school. Study at an upper secondary school takes place in day, evening and distance learning form. Admission to upper secondary school takes place on the basis of results of basic school and on the basis of verification of additional knowledge arranged by each upper secondary school.

Acquiring a general secondary education confers the right to continue studies in a higher educational institution or vocational school. External students are also eligible to graduate. To graduate from upper secondary school, final examinations are taken – state and school examinations. Tuition is free in state and local government general educational schools and the state and local governments must guarantee an opportunity for all to acquire a general education.

More about secondary education can you read on the home page of Ministry of Education and Research.

Every county in Estonia has a study counselling centre, where students, parents and teachers are provided psychological, logopedic, special education and social education counselling. The function of support centres is to support early noticing system for children’s developmental and educational special needs and the individual development of children. In addition, two schools for children with special needs operate Estonia-wide – the Tartu Emajõe School and the Tartu Hiie School.

Last amended: 08-08-2016 00:00 | Compiled by: Ministry of Education and Research