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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Fundamental principles and national policies


2.Organisation and governance

2.1Fundamental principles and national policies

Last update: 27 November 2023

The fundamental principles of provision of education in the Republic of Estonia are established in the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia  and the Education Act.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, everyone has the right to education. The point of departure of education is the recognition of basic human and national values and freedom of personality, religion and consciousness. The main purpose of education is to establish favouring conditions for the development of personality, family, the Estonian and minority nations, also the development of economic, political and cultural life in Estonia and protection of the environment in the context of the global economy and culture. It is equally important to raise people who will respect and follow laws, and to create possibilities for continuous learning for everybody.

Education is compulsory for school-age children to the extent specified by law and free of charge in state and local government general education schools. The provision of education is supervised by the state. In order to make education accessible, the state and local governments must maintain the requisite number of educational institutions. Other educational institutions, including private schools, may also be established and maintained pursuant to law. Operation of schools grounded on the private capital of physical or legal entities is regulated by the Private Schools Act.

Parents have the final decision in making educational choices for their children. Everyone has the right to receive instruction in Estonian. The Republic of Estonia guarantees the instruction of the Estonian language in all public educational institutions and study groups where the language of instruction is other than Estonian. The language of instruction in an educational institution of a national minority shall be chosen by the educational institution. In basic school the language of instruction may be any language; the choice of the language is made by the owner of the school. In upper secondary school, the language of instruction is Estonian but it may be any other language if the Government of the Republic approves it according to a relevant application.  The structure of the educational system and the educational standard of the state create an opportunity for everyone to proceed from one educational level to another.

The Ministry of Education and Research has set the objective to develop legislation that regulates all educational relationships essential for the society by delivering optimal number of legal acts, implements similar practices in regulation of similar fields of education, and uses the same terminology throughout the educational legislation. In addition to the Republic of Estonia Education Act, 10 more acts regulate the educational sphere in Estonia: the Preschool Child Care Institutions Act, the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, the Vocational Educational Institutions Act, the Universities Act, the Private Schools Act, the Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act, the Higher Education Standard, the Vocational Education Standard, the Adult Education Act and the Science and Development Organisation Act