Education ministry to pay local municipalities to close smaller schools

Empty classroom.
Empty classroom. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

The Ministry of Education and Research will allocate a one-time fee for local municipality governments that decide to stop managing local high schools with less than 100 students. At the same time, not all local municipalities are not interested in the initiative, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Tuesday.

There are 145 high schools in Estonia and there are less than 100 students in 44 of those schools, ministry local government cooperation and the school network adviser Piret Sapp said.

"There are three main reasons for why these changes are necessary. One is demographic changes, because high school student numbers will decrease by 2035 and in the long-term compared to today. Not in Estonia as a whole, but in most counties. Another very important reason is for teachers to get an opportunity to work full-time for better pay and for students to be able to study in a suitable environment, where they have enough options," Sepp said.

At the same time, there are local municipalities that have decided to maintain their sub-100 student schools. The high school in Kanepi municipality has seen its high school student number grow to 66 over the last years.

If education were to go away from the homeplace, people would go looking for jobs and lives in other regions, Kanepi municipality mayor Mikk Järv said. "This means families can make a decision of moving away or putting their children in another school before high school, which will also have an effect on basic education. There can be multiple effects and several questions still to come," Järv said.

The local municipality government of Värksa has also decided to maintain its high school education. "Since we are the southeasternmost corner of Estonia and it is 40 or 50 km to our closest high schools, we want to provide high school education here," Setomaa municipality mayor Raul Kudre said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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