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OECD: Estonian education system features equal opportunities and highest share of IT students

13. September 2017 - 15:33

The OECD education statistics overview “Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators” presented yesterday, reveals that 9% of entrants to higher education institutions start learning ICT which is the highest rate among OECD countries.

However, the overview demonstrates that, regardless of small classes and the fact that the teachers’ salary level is reaching the salary level of tertiary-educated full-time workers, teacher’s profession is not popular among Estonian youth. Only 6% of students take up studies in the field of education which is well below the OECD average of 9%. The teaching staff in Estonia is ageing and nearly a half of elementary, basic, and upper secondary level teachers are older than 50 which ranks Estonia second among OECD countries behind Italy.

Minister Mailis Reps pointed out that the salaries of teachers in general education schools have grown notably over the recent years whereas the salaries of nursery school teachers are still lagging behind. “To make the teacher’s profession a worthy career choice among talented youth it is essential to continue raising the teachers’ salaries besides other measures,” said Reps. “In addition, we will boost the salaries of nursery teachers to align them with the salaries of school teachers,” noted Reps.

Equal opportunities across all levels of education

The OECD finds that one of the strengths of the Estonian education system is ensuring equal opportunities across all levels of education. Just like in Nordic countries, salary gaps between adults with higher and secondary education are small on the global scale - the highly educated earn 24% more than workers with secondary education which is the smallest salary gap after Sweden. Further, the rate of employment of Estonian population is homogeneous across levels of education. “This proves that both people with vocational and higher education are valued on the labour market. Analyses indicate that every following level of education and completed academic year boosts income – learning pays off,” said Minister Reps.

The overview showed that vocational secondary education is not popular in Estonia and the rate of students graduating during the nominal period is low even though graduates have good changes on finding employment on the labour market. “All basic school graduates should be capable of continuing their studies either on vocational or upper secondary level,” underlined Mailis Reps. According to the Minister, the dropout rate should be lowered in upper secondary and vocational education and this has given rise to the discussion on raising the age of compulsory school attendance and on the admission threshold for upper secondary schools. “Our goal is that every youngster would acquire a profession either in a vocational school or, after completing the upper secondary level, in a higher education institution because individuals without professional qualifications are disadvantaged on the labour market,” said Reps.

Background

  • Education at Glance is one the major overviews of comparative education statistics designed to provide a point of reference for countries for comparing the effects of their education policies to the results of other countries.
  • Education at a Glance 2017 was published worldwide today.
  • This year, OECD prepared a thorough overview on Estonia for the third time.
  • Education at a Glance analyses the education systems of the 35 OECD member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, China, India, Indonesia, Columbia, Lithuania, Russia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of South Africa.
  • The full text of the overview is available on OECD web site www.oecd.org

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