School and Education in Estonia


Latin-speaking monastic schools and other church schools were opened as early as the 13th century. After the Reformation, the Protestant church organized homeschooling for peasants to learn to read the Bible. During the Swedish era, parish schools and the first teacher seminar were founded under the leadership of BG Forselius. During the 19th century, primary school education became compulsory. By the end of the century, literacy was greater in the Baltic Baltic provinces than in any other part of the Tsar empire. A greater number of Estonian (and Latvian) young people could then start studying at the University of Tartu (Dorpat), which Gustav II Adolf had founded in 1632, the second oldest university in the then Swedish state.

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During the period of independence between World War I and World War II, one fifth of the state budget was spent on education. The minorities were granted cultural autonomy, which is why a number of Swedish, Russian, German and Jewish primary schools could operate as well as a Swedish and German educational institution. During the Soviet era, investment in education continued, although many teachers were deported during the Stalin period and the teaching aids were subjected to severe censorship even after this period. Within the general elementary school, students were able to choose from hundreds of electives. Talented students were admitted to special language schools and other special education. The compulsory schooling in Estonia was a year longer than in the rest of the Soviet Union for students to also be taught Estonian history, geography, language, literature and music.

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Land area 45,228 km²
Total population 1,228,624
Population density (per km²) 27.2
Capital Tallin (Reval)
Official language Estonian
Income per capita $ 31,700
Currency Euro
ISO 3166 code EE
Internet TLD .ee
License plate EW
Telephone code +372
Time zone UTC UTC + 2, daylight saving time UTC + 3
Geographic coordinates 59 00 N, 26 00 O

During the national liberation in the late 1980s, military education as well as Marxism-Leninism courses in public schools, and the military faculties of universities and colleges were discontinued, while Christianity teaching was again allowed. Foreign language teaching, especially English, has been expanded since the independence gained in 1991 and the teaching of Russian has decreased significantly. School duty prevails and children start school the year they turn seven. Most pupils read after the nine-year compulsory school at the three-year high school or vocational school.

Estonia has a well-developed university education. In addition to the University of Tartu, there are several colleges: the Agricultural Academy in Tartu and the Tallinn Technical University, the Pedagogical Institute, the School of the Arts and the School of Music. Since the 1990s, several smaller, private colleges have been added.