14,200 first graders to start school in September

First day of school ceremony at an Estonian school.
First day of school ceremony at an Estonian school. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

An estimated 155,000 pupils will take up full-time studies in Estonia this upcoming academic year, of which 14,200 are first-graders.

By 2024, the number of pupils entering studies may reach 159,000. However, that number would still be far from the highs of the late 1999s, when more than 215,000 pupils studied in the general education schools of Estonia.

The dynamics in the numbers of pupils is different in regions of Estonia, with increases registered mainly in Tartu County and Harju County.

Where the overall number of pupils is growing, the number of pupils starting school in grade one is overcoming its peak and stabilizing at close to 14,200, compared with around 15,000 first graders having started school in recent years.

Most of the changes in the general education school network are to do with a rearrangement of school stages. Generally, this means that the high school stages of individual municipal schools close due to the shortage of students and the school will continue as a basic school. A a result, the number of schools featuring 12 grades has decreased and the number of basic schools has grown in Estonia. 

In vocational education the number of admissions has been stable in recent years. The average age of the people obtaining vocational education has grown as more and more adults wish to improve their competitiveness on the labor market and acquire new skills.

The number of university students continues to decline, both as a result of changes in demographics, as the numbers 18 to 24-year-olds and their share in the population is declining, as well as of changes in study paths.

The trend whereby young people make a small pause in studies after obtaining secondary education and will go on with their studies in the higher or vocational education system after a few years is getting more commonplace. This is confirmed also by an increase in the average age of students and young people enrolled in universities, as well as an increase in the average age of students in vocational education. 

Also the numbers of foreign students and their proportion in overall student numbers have grown.

The precise numbers of pupils attending school in the new school year will become clear in mid-November, when schools and municipalities have forwarded their data to the Estonian education information system EHIS.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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