OECD Reviews of School Resources: Estonia 2016

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The effective use of school resources is a policy priority across OECD countries. The OECD Reviews of School Resources explore how resources can be governed, distributed, utilised and managed to improve the quality, equity and efficiency of school education.

The series considers four types of resources: financial resources, such as public funding of individual schools; human resources, such as teachers, school leaders and education administrators; physical resources, such as location, buildings and equipment; and other resources, such as learning time.

This series offers timely policy advice to both governments and the education community. It includes both country reports and thematic studies.


Assessment and recommendations

The Estonian school system is high-performing and has accomplished significant achievements. Coverage rates in pre-primary education are high and participation in schooling is almost universal. Secondary-school attainment of the adult population (aged 25-64) is among the highest within the OECD area while the proportion of adults holding a tertiary qualification is above the OECD average. However, the gender gap in Estonia is among the widest in the OECD area, with a much greater proportion of women completing a tertiary qualification. Adults have literacy and numeracy skills above the OECD average and the performance of young adults is comparatively better. By contrast, the proportion of adults with high performance in problem solving in technology-rich environments is below the OECD average. The performance of students in international assessments at the secondary level is among the best in Europe in reading, mathematics and science and has improved significantly in the last few years. This goes alongside one of the smallest shares of low performers in mathematics, reading and science. However, a significant proportion of young adults do not have a professional or vocational qualification and rates of completion in vocational education are low. Also, while at the secondary level students’ socio-economic background has a smaller impact on performance in Estonia than in other OECD countries, there remain concerns about the performance of students in Russian language schools (in spite of some recent improvement) and some significant performance differences exist between schools depending on their location. Finally, the integration of students with special education needs into mainstream education remains limited.

English Also available in: Estonian

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