Educational possibilities in Estonia
Children who turn 7 years of age by 1 October of the current year are obliged to attend school. Before starting school children usually attend preschool child care institutions. The compulsory schooling obligation applies to children until they acquire basic education or turn 17 years of age.
Pupils in grades 1 to 9 acquire basic education. In grades 7 to 9, they also have the opportunity to enter into vocational training in the field that interests them.
Pupils who do not finish basic school and who are at least 17 years old can enter vocational education without the requirement of basic education (0.5 to 2.5 years, only professional skills are acquired) and/or continue acquiring basic education in an adult upper secondary school.
After basic education, pupils have four options for further studies:
- upper secondary school – general secondary education is acquired (3 years);
- upper secondary school with vocational training (preliminary vocational training) – general secondary education and some professional skills are acquired (3 years);
- vocational educational institution – secondary vocational education is acquired (at least 3 years);
- vocational educational institution – professional skills are acquired without general education (1 to 3 years).
After secondary education, pupils have three options for further studies:
- vocational educational institution – vocational education (0.5 to 3 years) or professional higher education (3 to 4.5 years) is acquired;
- professional higher education institution, colleges of universities – professional higher education (3 to 4.5 years) is acquired;
- university – academic higher education is acquired; Bachelor’s degree (3 years) -> Master’s degree (2 years) -> doctoral degree (3 to 4 years).
Further education in the adult education system allows employed persons to:
- complete unfinished basic or general secondary education in the form of evening classes or distance learning or as an external student;
- acquire vocational or secondary vocational education in the form of part-time study;
- acquire higher education in the form of part-time study or as an external student.
Acquisition of general secondary education and secondary vocational education is free whilst acquisition of higher education in the form of part-time study usually requires students to pay tuition fees.
Employed persons can also attend:
- professional training courses for adults in several private schools, vocational educational institutions, professional higher education institutions, and universities and professional associations;
- informal training courses at folk universities, informal training centres and cultural centres.