OECD: Estonia excels in primary education, lacks in skills and income ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonia is doing well in education and environment sectors but its citizens have low salaries and poor health, according to the latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report "360 Estonia 2015. What are the results of Estonia compared to others?"

The publication provides an overview of OECD's recently published surveys in a number of areas, including welfare, education, economy, environment, and agriculture. In each area, there are separate conclusions made regarding Estonia, as well as Estonia's ranking among OECD countries.

Marten Kokk, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the OECD, said that country-specific reports of this type are being released by the OECD for the first time.

He said Estonia is doing very well in the education sphere - as testified for instance by the PISA tests, where in maths Estonian pupils outshone even Finland - and also ranks high in different environmental indexes.

On the other hand, it is not doing as well in terms of salaries and public health.

Whereas the average net income in Estonia is currently around 13,260 euros a year, the OECD average is about 22,130 euros a year.

Annika Uudelepp, Director of the Praxis Center for Policy Studies, said the main reason for this is Estonia's low labor productivity, or in other words, failure to create added value. "It's connected to what we produce in the first place. We produce simple things, instead of complicated ones," she explained.

Moreover, low salaries are also related to skill sets and there are today around 100,000 people in Estonia who lack any qualifications.

"If we look at the poverty indicators that the low incomes reflect, it must also be said that Estonia's spending on social protection is well below OECD average. We spend a lot more on education and culture and in the former we are on the top," Uudelepp said.

According to the report, Estonia also struggles with public health. The average life expectancy is 76 years, that is four years less than OECD average. Public health indicators have been low for decades, but the problems are partly rooted in the past, Uudelepp said. "We are spending less on healthcare than other OECD states. So here one could also say that the less you put in, the less you get out," she added.

Estonia joined OECD in 2010. It was the first Baltic state to do so.

Editor: M. Oll

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