April 1 marked the deadline for local governments to inform the Ministry of Education and Research of any decisions to close or restructure local schools. Among other changes, five schools in various parts of the country will be closing their doors ahead of the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year this fall.
By the end of the day on Friday, the ministry had received some 20 notices of planned restructuring of educational institutions. Among planned changes are the merging of different levels of education, the closure of high school grade levels or entire schools, and the closure or merger of kindergartens with local basic schools.
With 10 out of 19 votes, Lüganuse Municipal Council passed an educational reform that included the closure of Lüganuse Basic School and Sonda Elementary School at the end of the current school year.
Rõuge Municipal Council also decided to close Misso School, the kindergarten portion of which will be merged with Haanja School.
Jõgeva Municipality has decided to close Jõgeva Adult High School.
Vinni Municipal Council has decided to close its six-class Tudu School.
Several high schools to convert to basic schools
Several school systems in Järva County will be making changes as well. Peetri School will be converted to a combined basic school and kindergarten by 2024. Järva Municipal Council also wants to convert both Aravete High School and Ambla-Aravete School to basic schools. Imavere Basic School will be merged with the local kindergarten and be renamed Imavere School.
Järva Municipal Council justified the gradual closure of several high schools by citing the aging and decline of its population.
Oskar Luts Palamuse High School will also be closing its high school-level grades, i.e. grades 10-12. According to principal Siiri Sõmer, the decision to close the school's upper grades was reached based on current students' lack of interest in continuing their high school-level studies at the Palamuse school. Sõmer likewise noted that under current conditions, it is difficult for the school to offer students a diverse high school education.
Rakvere High School and Rakvere High School of Sciences will likewise be converted to basic schools.
In accordance with the Education Strategy 2035, Estonia is working toward the state taking on an increased responsibility in the organization of high school-level education, while local governments will be responsible for ensuring strong and nearby basic schools for children living there, a representative of the Ministry of Education said.
The Ministry of Education and Research will provide one-off subsidies to all local governments who have decided to close down high school-level grades in the process of restructuring one or several public schools.
Editor: Aili Vahtla