Basic Education Basic education can be acquired in primary schools (grades 1−6), basic schools (grades 1−9) or upper secondary schools that have opened basic school grades. Basic school is divided into three stages of study: stage I – grades 1−3; stage II – grades 4−6; stage III – grades 7−9. 121.405 pupils are acquiring basic education in the 2007/2008 academic year, 36.384 of them in stage I, 38.234 in stage II and 46,787 in stage III. Basic education can be acquired on the basis of three national curricula: the national basic school and upper secondary school curriculum, the simplified national basic school curriculum and the national curriculum for students with moderate and severe learning disabilities. The maximum permitted weekly workload of pupils is as follows: 20 lessons in grade 1; 23 lessons in grade 2; 25 lessons in grades 3 and 4; 28 lessons in grade 5; 30 lessons in grades 6 and 7; 32 lessons in grade 8; 34 lessons in grade 9.
General Secondary Education Upper secondary education is provided pursuant to the national curriculum which is used by each school as the basis of their own curriculum. There are 35 study weeks in daytime study. One study week must include at least 32 lessons. Pupils in upper secondary schools can acquire extensive knowledge in certain fields of study within the framework of elective subjects (in arts, science, natural sciences, etc.) or learn a profession taught in vocational schools. At the end of the three-year study period pupils take five graduation examinations, of which at least three are state examinations. 33.666 pupils are studying in upper secondary schools in the 2007/2008 academic year. Approximately 6.300 pupils are acquiring basic and general secondary education in the form of evening study and distance learning, 5.000 of them are acquiring general secondary education.
E-school All Estonian schools are connected to Internet. E-school - parents, students, teachers and school administrators can connect via the Internet, making school information accessible from home. With everything from grades to attendance records available in one area, the work routine for teachers and school management is less stressful and easier to manage. By combining all day-to-day transactions and processes into one e- government infrastructure, Estonia stands as a prime example as to how smoothly a country can run when everyone is on the same page.
The Essence of e-school E-school is a solution that allows parents (and students) to see school- information concerning their child i.e grades, missed classes, home assignments etc. securely over the Internet. It also improves parents’ communication with teachers via different Forums. E-school is an infotechnological database and application based on a centrally hosted server for storage of study-related information created in schools. It is available to users over the Internet. E-school allows authorised persons role-based filtered viewing (and administration) of the part of the information that they have the right to access. E.g. a parent can view only the information related to his/her child while the teacher is restricted to the information on just the classes and subjects he/she teaches while nobody can access the data of another school, etc. The primary objectives of e-school are: To involve parents into the study process and school life more actively than before by enabling them to consistently view what is going on in school and communicate with the teacher; To open up the school – to make school activities and the information that is being created at school available to parents and students on a current basis; To create an application that can be used practically in all schools and which is applicable immediately as well as step-by-step in line with the readiness and needs of each school. Joining the application has to be voluntary for schools based on the wishes of interest groups (school management, teacher, parents).
Administration and management model of Schools - Funding The majority of general education schools – 529 of 589 schools in 2007 – are municipal schools. 31 schools are state schools and 29 are private schools. 27 state schools are for pupils with special needs and 4 are ordinary schools. This means that general education schools are mainly funded from the budgets of local governments. Local governments have the competence to establish, reorganise and close general education schools and to organise transport to take pupils to and from schools, catering during study periods, etc.
A new general education funding model for distribution of education expenditures among local governments was implemented in 2008. The model proceeds from the circumstance that the cost of teaching each class is the same regardless of the number of pupils in the class. This principle guarantees local governments equal opportunities in the provision of general education, because support from the state budget is allocated for payment of teacher salaries and investments not only on the basis of the number of students, but also according to the number of classes and lessons. Administration and management model of Schools - Funding
The National Examinations and Qualifications Centre -Teachers Evaluation The Teachers’ Department: organises evaluation of teachers’ professional skills and issuing professional certificates; organises the work of the national evaluation committee, provides consultation to the evaluation committees of educational institutions; evaluates the qualifications of teachers and makes prognosis for the need for in-service training and retraining; evaluates conformity of in-service training curricula to teaching qualification requirements; analyzes teachers’ professional preparation and teachers’ participation in in-service training on the basis of the EHIS; is competent to recognize teaching qualification acquired abroad.
Teachers working time and tasks In Estonia, the prerequisite for contracting an employment contract with a teacher is the presence of the respective qualification. This is governed in Estonia by two regulations by the Minister of Education: "The Conditions and Policies for Teacher Evaluation" and "The Qualification Requirements for Teachers". 4 grades apply to teachers in Estonia and the grades are assigned to teachers by means of evaluation: junior teacher - a teacher with higher professional education who begins working as a teacher, teacher - a teacher with higher professional education who has successfully worked for at least 1 year, senior teacher - a teacher with higher professional education who has successfully worked as teacher for at least 3 years and has met the additional requirements such as provided instruction for junior teachers, written a teaching-related research paper etc, teacher- methodologist - a teacher with higher professional education who has successfully worked as senior teacher for at least 3 years and met the additional requirements set forth.
The grades of junior teacher and teacher are assigned by the head of the educational institution that the teacher works at; the grade of senior teacher is assigned by the evaluating board at the educational institution. The grade of teacher-methodologist is assigned by the national evaluating board established by the Minister of Education and Research. It is voluntary for a teacher to apply for the two higher ones of the grades - senior teacher and teacher- methodologist. Evaluation is an opportunity for professional career for teachers and their remuneration also depends directly on the grade since a minimum salary rate set forth by the Government of the Republic corresponds to each of the grades. This means that a teacher with the respective grade must not be paid less than the minimum corresponding salary rate. As a result of the negotiations between Estonian Education Personnel Union and the Government of the Republic, during the last few years the salary rates have increased by 8 to 15 % yearly. A teacher's remuneration does not depend on his/her length of employment. A teacher's retirement age is equal to all the other employees', neither do teachers enjoy any other benefits related to social security. There are considerable differences in the way teachers' working time is governed, compared to other employees. The Working and Rest Time Act lays down a reduced standard for working time for teachers. Teachers working time and tasks
The general standard for working time is 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day in Estonia. The reduced standard for working time for teachers is 35 hours per week or 7 hours per day. A list of posts that the reduced standard applies to has been laid down by a regulation of the Government of the Republic. In addition, the Government of the Republic has laid down the number of lessons per week for a teacher that are mandatory if the teacher works full-time and is paid the minimum salary rate for full employment and according to the teacher's grade. The norm for lessons is: 18 to 24 lessons per week in basic school and 18 to 22 lessons per week in secondary school. Teachers working time and tasks