The availability of international general education contribute notably to the implementation of the Action Plan on Exports and Foreign Investment and operational programmes concerning the internationalisation of research and higher education as well as the rotation of foreign and Estonian diplomats, and the employment of foreign experts in Estonia.
The primary target group of international general education includes foreign diplomats, researchers, academic staff and other specialists. The aim is to allow their children, who temporarily reside in Estonia, continue their education on the basis of curricula that are comparable on the global or European level.
Information for foreigners looking to enrol their children in a school or nursery school in Estonia
Foreign nationals looking to enrol their children in a suitable school or nursery school in Estonia must first contact the local government authorities of their (future) place of residence. Further, they can seek advice from the contact person of the Ministry of Education and Research (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Once the appropriate school(s) has (have) been identified in coordination with the local authorities, the parents can contact the school to determine the grade/class where their child will be enrolled.
According to the national curriculum applicable in Estonia, preschool and basic education can be acquired in two languages - there are Estonian-speaking schools and nursery schools as well as basic schools and nursery schools where the language of instruction is Russian. Further, various alternatives are available for foreigners who would like their children to learn according to an international curriculum.
In Estonia, education is free of charge for all children up to the end of the secondary level, except for private schools who usually charge for it. More detailed information on the Estonian school system and the management of education is contained in the guide "Welcome to the Estonian School!" which is available in Estonian, English and Russian is designed for families who have recently moved to Estonia from another country and whose children will be enrolled in an Estonian school.
Education in English based on the national curriculum of Estonia
Private schools have demonstrated that education in English can be successfully adjusted to the national curriculum applicable in Estonia. On the upper secondary level (grades 10 to 12), education in English is available in the international class of the EBS High School in Tallinn, whereas the Tartu International School offers education in English on the basic level (grades 1 to 9). Both private schools provide paid education based on the national curriculum of Estonia (information on the tuition fee is available on the web sites of the EBS High School and the Tartu International School).
Education in Estonian-speaking schools
If a student who comes to Estonia from a foreign country and whose native language is other than Estonian, takes up studies in an Estonian-speaking school, the state shall make available additional funds to the school to organise the teaching of Estonian and the provision of other support services. Individual curricula shall be drawn up for such students to enable them to learn at a pace corresponding to their abilities. The students are enlisted in the same class with their age-mates, and for teaching them Estonian that is required for acquiring education the students are integrated in the regular curriculum as quickly as possible.
Availability of preschool education in a foreign language in Estonia
In Tallinn and Tartu, preschool education can be acquired in a foreign language. Most of the preschool groups use English. However, the private nursery school Memme Musi operates a group where the languages of instruction are French and Estonian, and the Tallinn Allika Nursery School features a group for German.
English student groups are accessible at the following nursery schools and schools in Tallinn:
1. Preschool of International School of Estonia (3-6-year-olds);
2. private nursery school Kalli-Kalli (2-7-year-olds);
3. International Nursery School (2-7-year-olds);
4. Preschool of Tallinna European School (4-5-year-olds).
According to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, teaching in Estonia may be carried out pursuant to the curriculum of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) or a curriculum developed on the basis of the Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools (European Baccalaureate).
IB (International Baccalaureate)
IB is an internationally recognised curriculum developed by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). IBO offers international curricula for three different stages of education:
- Primary Years Programme (PYP);
- Middle Years Programme (MYP); and
- Diploma Programme (DP).
Schools in more than 140 countries across the world implement the IB curriculum, and in the 2015/16 academic year, more than 1.3 million students learned according to it. For more information, see IBO
Availability of IB education in Estonia
Schools that have been authorised by the IBO to apply a specific programme may provide education according to the IB curriculum. The following general education schools in Estonia have been authorised by IBO to implement the IB programmes in English:
1. Tallinn English College – PYP (grades 1 to 4), MYP candidate school (grades 5 to 6) and DP (grades 11 to 12);
2. Audentes School (in Tallinn) – DP (grades 11 to 12);
3. International School of Estonia (in Tallinn) - PYP (grades 1 to 4), MYP candidate school (grades 5 to 6) and DP (grades 11 to 12);
4. Miina Härma Secondary School (in Tartu) - PYP (grades 1 to 4), MYP candidate school (grades 5 to 6) and DP (grades 11 to 12);
The Audentes School and the International School of Estonia are private schools that provide paid education (information on the tuition fee is available on the web sites of the International School of Estonia and the Audentes School).
The Tallinn English College and the Miina Härma Secondary School are municipal schools financed from the local government budget and the state budget subsidies - therefore, education in these schools is free of charge. The admission criteria for enrolling in IB studies at the Tallinn English College or the Miina Härma Secondary School are available on their web sites.
EB (European Baccalaureate)
EB is an internationally recognised curriculum developed on the basis of the Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools. The EB curriculum includes multilingual and multicultural programmes from the pre-primary level through to the end of secondary level that are divided between three stages of education: nursery, primary and secondary.
The main goal of European Schools is to provide uniform education to the children of the public servants of the European Communities which means that all European Schools apply a harmonised curriculum to allow trouble-free movement of students between schools. The EB curriculum pays special attention to developing the fundamental values of the EU and the students' native language or first language, and teaching at least two foreign languages. Some subjects are taught in the second language. In the primary stage (grades P3 to P5), the European classes are in the second language (L2), whereas in the secondary stage (grades S3 to S7), subjects taught in the second language include history, geography, economics and ethics.
The holders of the European Baccalaureate diploma can enrol in any university on the territory of an EU Member State subject to the same conditions as the citizens of that Member State having an equivalent qualification.
The system of European Schools includes 28 schools of general education whereof 14 are category 1 schools (5 in Belgium, 3 in Germany, 2 in Luxembourg, and one each in Spain, the Netherlands, the UK and Italy), and 14 are accredited European Schools (2 in Italy, 2 in France, and one each in Denmark, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and Estonia). For more information, see Schola Europaea.
Availability of EB education in Estonia
In Estonia, the EB curriculum is implemented by the Tallinn European School. On 26 August 2013, the school was officially accredited to provide education based on the European Schools curriculum. The school has an English section, whereas French and German are taught as a second language. In 2018, the French section will be added.
The Tallinn European School provides paid education (for information on tuition fees, see their web site).
In the first order, children of individuals working at the EU institutions and agencies are admitted to EB positions. Further, the following are admitted to EB positions:
- children - of foreigners living and working in Estonia - whose native language is an official language of the EU;
- children whose parent holds a diplomatic position of a foreign country;
- students who - for at least three years - have studied in the European School system in a foreign country or in another international school because one of their parents was or is employed in a foreign country, according to a written confirmation from the employer.
Based on international treaties, the Tallinn German Secondary School and the Kadrioru German Secondary School offer advanced studies in German, whereas the Tallinn Finnish School applies the Finnish curriculum. The Tallinn German Secondary School and the Kadrioru German Secondary School are municipal schools where education is free of charge. The Tallinn Finnish School is a private school that provides paid education (for information on tuition fees, see their web site).