Law axing obligation to pass exams to graduate high school passes Riigikogu

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Students taking the Estonian exam. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

A law which can remove the requirement to pass or even take school exams in order to graduate high school passed its Riigikogu vote Wednesday evening, ahead of the first of these exams taking place next week.

The primary motive of those drafting the bill, which passed by 81 votes in favor to none against at the 101-seat parliament, was concerns over disruptions to school children's progress caused by the switch to remote learning for much of the current academic year.

The exams, which have been mandatory up until now, are the culmination of "basic school" (Põhikool) education. Passing these had been required for those who wished to graduate and go on to optional upper secondary school (Gümnaasium). Upper secondary school exams themselves are also covered in the same way by the legislation.

The law provides options for decoupling the requirement to pass state or other exams in order to graduate, as well as for scope in changing exam times and providing additional exam sittings where necessary, ERR reports.

The bill amends the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act.

The first upper secondary final exams are to be held on April 19, ERR reports.

Estonia's education system is organized in four levels. Pre-school runs to age seven and results in a certification of progress, while the basic, compulsory system is the nine-year basic school (cf. junior high) – the first three grades of which are called "beginning school" (Algkool, cf. elementary school).

Optional continued secondary education is provided by upper secondary schools (Gümnaasium, cf. high school) and also vocational schools. Completing upper secondary is necessary to go into higher education, and runs through to year 12 (dated from entering basic school).

From 2018, Estonia has come in first place from among European nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings.

Statistics on last academic year's state exams are here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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