Education in Estonia

Estonia – education

In the 1990’s, education in Estonia was strongly influenced by an ideological reorientation after the Soviet period; it has manifested itself in reforms of the content of education, in the change of language of instruction from Russian to Estonian, and in an incipient privatization of higher education in particular. In 1993, Russian was abolished as a language of instruction in high school.

There is nine years of compulsory schooling, which is fulfilled in primary school, algkoolid, which is four years old, and in the lower secondary school, põhikoolid, which is five years old. The upper tier of the three-year secondary school, gümnaasiumid, is voluntary. The youth educations include in addition to the high school, which is applied for by approximately 60% of a cohort (1993), vocational schools receiving approximately 30%. approximately 90% of a cohort continues in a youth education. For the 3-7-year-olds there are kindergartens.

Higher education is offered at 22 different educational institutions (1994), several of which are private.

OFFICIAL NAME: Eesti (off. Eesti Vabariik, da. Republic of Estonia)


POPULATION: 1,317,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)

AREA: 45,227 km²

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): Estonian, Russian, Ukrainian, Finnish, Estonian-Swedish

RELIGION: Lutherans 20%, Orthodox 20%, other Christians 5%, others 55%

COIN: euro (EUR)



POPULATION COMPOSITION: Estonians 65%, Russians 28%, Ukrainians 3%, Belarusians 2%, Finns 1%, others 1%

GDP PER residents: $ 5866 (2007)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 66 years, women 77 years (2007)




Estonia is a Baltic Republic. Estonia is the northernmost and smallest of the three Baltic countries that regained independence in connection with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Estonia was considered the most modern and prosperous of the Soviet republics, and Estonian goods were in demand in the rest of the Soviet Union. After independence, the traditional markets have become less important, and a difficult reorientation to the west has begun, e.g. with support from the Nordic countries. The historical, cultural and linguistic ties are particularly close to Finland. A special problem is the very large Russian-speaking minority, which has difficult conditions under the strong Estonian national feeling, and which makes up the majority of the approximately 91,000 people (6.8% of the population) who are stateless (2015).

  • Find two-letter abbreviation for each independent country and territory, such as EE which stands for Estonia.

Estonia – Constitution

The Constitution entered into force on 3.7.1992 after being adopted by a referendum five days earlier. It is explicitly based on the 1938 Constitution. Constitutional amendments require that two consecutive sitting parliaments with at least, 3/5 majority, ie. 61 votes, adopts a proposal for a constitutional amendment. Legislative power lies with the elected parliament, Riigikogu, which has 101 members.

Estonia is divided into 12 constituencies, 3 of which are in Tallinn. Ordinary parliamentary elections must be held every four years by direct proportional representation with a 5% threshold. Eligible to vote are Estonian nationals who have reached the age of 18, including those residing abroad. Votes cast before election day can be cast electronically via the Internet, while on election day itself they are cast in polling stations. Following a constitutional amendment (2015), the voting age in municipal elections has been reduced to 16 years, and in the municipal elections in 2017, approximately 24,000 16- and 17-year-olds to have the right to vote.

The president must be born ester and turned 40 years old; he is elected by Parliament for a term of five years and may hold office for a maximum of two consecutive terms. The President appoints the Prime Minister, he is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and may propose to Parliament to declare the country at war. Parliament can declare the country a state of emergency.

Estonia – social conditions

Before independence, social conditions in Estonia were organized according to the Soviet model, which meant work for all, free medical care and pensions. Following independence in 1991, a liberal model was implemented, based on a tax system with income tax, a VAT system and a social tax paid primarily by companies; of the proceeds from here goes 2/3 for the Social Insurance and 1/3 to a health insurance system.

In the labor market, legislation has been adopted based on the Nordic and Western European models, but it is far from complete and the wage level is very low. The retirement age in 1994 was 60 years for men and 55 years for women. The national pension constitutes 85% of the minimum wage; 100% for the disabled. After the privatization of the housing stock, some housing support can be granted.

It was estimated in 1992 that about 20% of the population lived on a subsistence level and many others lived on a low economic level. Yet, in the mid-1990’s, social stability is beginning to emerge, and although a class of so-called newcomers has also emerged, fewer social tensions are seen than in many other former communist countries. Check youremailverifier for Estonia social condition facts.

Estonia (Health conditions)

The birth rate has dropped below 15 ‰ in 1993, and mortality is rising. Life expectancy is 74 years for women and 63 years for men. Child mortality is significantly higher than in the Nordic countries: in 1993 it was 15.5 per. 1000 live births. The number of abortions increased and in 1993 amounted to 169 per. 100 births. Mortality due to cardiovascular disease is high and accounts for 55% of all deaths. Cancer is responsible for 16% of mortality. Suicide, homicide and accidents cause 14% of deaths, the proportion is increasing.

Estonia spent 4.4% of GDP on health care in 1993, and from 1994 the financing is predominantly through public health insurance, which covers virtually everyone. The country has two doctors, three nurses and ten hospital beds per. 1000 residents The legislation aims at reducing the number of hospitals and strengthening a health service near the citizens.

Estonia – legal system

Estonia reintroduced in 1991 the private law that existed before 1940, and thus again introduced private property rights. A 1994 law on the general principles of the Civil Code set out the framework for the forthcoming Civil Code, which now contains a bond law, family law and inheritance law.

The Estonian Citizenship Act of 1995 stipulates, among other things, that a foreigner can become an Estonian citizen if he or she has lived in Estonia for five years before and stays there for one year after applying for citizenship. In addition, the applicant must be familiar with the Estonian language and the Estonian constitution, be loyal to the state and have a fixed and legal income.

Estonia – mass media

The first newspapers were German-language and were published from 1689 in the capital Tallinn. It was not until 1806 that newspapers were published in Estonian, broadcast from the university city of Tartu. Until 1917, all newspapers were subjected to strict censorship by the Russian Empire, yet the often small Estonian newspapers meant a lot to the development and maintenance of a modern Estonian written language. The Constitution of 1920 guaranteed the freedom of the press in an independent Estonia, but as early as 1933, exceptional laws put freedom of the press out of force, and during the Soviet occupation, the Estonian press was subject to strict censorship.

As early as 1985, the Estonian newspapers became spearheads of a new independence movement, initially built around the struggle for a better environment and from the late 1980’s openly around a struggle for an independent Estonia. The radio (grdl. 1926) and the television (grdl. 1955) also had the opportunity for a profiled program area around environmental issues.

After the independence in 1991, an explosion in the media supply followed, first in the print media, from 1992 also in the electronic media with the introduction of private radio and television stations. Since the mid-1990’s, however, there has been a sharp concentration of the growing Estonian press. In 2004, 13 officially registered dailies and 120 weekly newspapers were published.

Estonia – literature

The first book in Estonian is Luther’s Little Catechism, printed in 1535. In 1739 came the first Bible translation. The national revival in the second half of the 1800’s. was reflected in intensive studies of the Estonian language and folklore, and on this subject the physician Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald composed the national heroic epic Kalevipoeg (1857-61, da. 1878).

The other great national romantic is Lydia Koidula (1843-86), whose poems were put to music and enjoyed immense popularity at singing competitions.

Naturalism was initiated by Eduard Vilde (1865-1933) with the novel To the Cold Land (1896), and together with August Kitzberg (1856-1927) he also gained great importance for the development of Estonian drama.

From 1905, the modernist, Western Europe-oriented movement Noor-Eesti (‘Young Estonia’) was leading the way. At the head were the poet Gustav Suits (1883-1956), who was twice forced into exile, and Friedebert Tuglas (1886-1971), prose writer and a pioneering literary critic.

During the period of independence, Anton Hansen Tammsaare was the leading prose writer. Among the lyricists, Marie Under (1883-1980) took a special position with her bold nature and love poetry. From 1944 she lived unnoticed in Stockholm, which became the headquarters of exile literature, and from which new impulses throughout the Soviet period illegally flowed to Estonia.

In its first phase, many writers were imprisoned or deported. A massive ideologization set in, and oppositional literature was suppressed.

After the thaw, conditions became freer, and the 1960’s were marked by experiments in all genres. Since 1988, many writers were active in the popular front movement, such as Lennart Meri, who in 1992 became president of the new, independent Estonia, and the poet Paul Eerik Rummo (b. 1942), who became Minister of Culture.

The most important author in recent times is Jaan Kross, whose historical novels have contributed to a renewed international awareness of Estonian literature.

Estonia – music

The oldest known music among the Finno-Ugric peoples is the Estonian runic song, which can be traced to the millennium before the birth of Christ. The runo songs are limited in melodic scope, but rich in variations. There are a total of over 30,000 melodies and 133,000 variations. The genre was widespread among people in the countryside until the mid-1800’s, when it was slowly replaced by rhyming folk songs.

Around the same time, the first distinctly Estonian art music was created, closely linked to the nascent national consciousness, which was especially expressed at the national choral festivals. They have taken place every five years since 1869 with up to 30,000 performers and 250,000 singing listeners. After the incorporation into the Soviet Union in 1944, the Estonians used the song festivals in Tallinn as a mark of their cultural identity.

Estonia’s first professional composers were trained in Skt. Petersburg towards the end of the 1800’s; they especially wrote songs for the choral movement. In the 1890’s, Rudolf Tobias (1873-1918) composed the first symphonic works in Estonia, and in 1900 the first symphony orchestra was founded in Tartu. In 1870, opera houses were opened in Tallinn (Estonia) and Tartu (Vanemuine), but it was not until 1906 that the full-time ensembles were given ensembles.

After independence in 1918, conservatories were founded, around whose leaders two different schools were formed. In Tallinn, Artur Kapp (1878-1952) and his students sought classical clarity in vocal music; in Tartu, on the other hand, Heino Eller (1887-1970) and his students sought a synthesis of Estonian traditions and modern forms of expression.

The composers, who had remained in the country during the German occupation, were pursued by the Stalinist authorities after the war. Several fled the terror in 1944, including the country’s leading symphonist Eduard Tubin (1905-82), who settled in Sweden. Stalin’s death meant a breakthrough for modernism in Estonia; Among other things, Eino Tamberg’s (1930-2010) Concerto grosso was premiered in 1956. The composers of his generation, who from the 1950’s were given more leeway, also include Veljo Tormis (1930-2017) and Arvo Pärt (b. 1935), who settled in 1980. with his family in Berlin following pressure from the Soviet authorities.

Arvo Pärt began with twelve-tone techniques, but reached a distinctive minimalism, which was taken over by other composers. One of the most prominent figures among the younger composers of the 1990’s is Erkki-Sven Tüür (b. 1959).

In 1980, conductor Neeme Järvi emigrated to the United States. His colleague Eri Klas (1939-2016) (also known as a boxer), on the other hand, chose to stay at the Estonia Theater in Tallinn, from where he has engaged in the political-cultural breakthrough of the 1990’s; with a background in the choral movement and its significance for the country’s new independence, he has characterized it as the singing revolution. Eri Klas was chief conductor of the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra in 1991-96.

Estonia Education