In just over two weeks, on Sept. 1, over 15,000 children are expected to begin their formal education by entering first grade in Estonia.
In recent years, the number of children starting school each year in Estonia has grown, and according to Ministry of Education and Research Deputy Secretary General for General and Vocational Education Mart Laidmets, an increase can be expected this year as well.
"According to current estimates, 15,600 pupils will be entering first grade, and this naturally means that there will be more of those, who will continue on to high school or trade school," said Laidmets.
Regarding the concern that smaller schools across the country are nontheless growing emptier by the year, the ministry official found that one possible solution could be lightening the load on basic schools by decreasing the number of grades they span from the current nine. He confirmed, however, that the state provides enough funding to guarantee access to basic education in all parts of the country.
"If there really are very few students, perhaps basic school should run through sixth grade, for example," said Laidmets. He also noted that the establishment of state high schools ensuring nationwide access to quality education has also been an important step.
According to the ministry's plans, a total of 24 state high schools will be established in Estonia by 2023, of which 12 are already open. While no additional new state high schools will be opened during the upcoming school year, three are scheduled to open in 2018.
Editor: Aili Vahtla