According to OECD’s 2016 report on school resources in Estonia, the country’s kindergarten system needs to be reformed. MPs Mailis Reps and Helmen Kütt have proposed making at least the final year of kindergarten mandatory and paying for the fee out of the state budget, however Minister of Education and Research Jürgen Ligi was not in favor of such a solution.
"It is the wrong tendency for the state to be presented as the manager of all things close to home,” said Ligi to Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht (link in Estonian).
According to the minister, childcare institutions were inherently a local government issue, and the state stepping in would not improve but rather complicate their ability to perform their duties.
In Ligi’s opinion, it must remain up to local governments to assess just how much to subsidize their kindergartens and whether or not and how much to charge parents for tuition.
“The availability of kindergarten spots is a more critical issue than average tuition and discounts for those with more difficult circumstances,” the education minister explained.
Kindergarten, which is offered for children ages 3 to 6, is not currently a compulsory part of primary school education in Estonia; children are only required to complete grades 1-9, beginning at age 7.
Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik