Country information for Estonia - Financing of inclusive education systems

The financing of educational institutions depends on the ownership of the institution. There are state, municipal and private education institutions. The European Social Fund (ESF) helps to foster close co-operation between the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Affairs for implementing new programmes (Source: Financing of Inclusive Education, 2016, p. 57).

Pre-primary childcare institutions are mostly owned by the municipalities. They are financed by the local budget, although parents pay a participation fee. The state budget covers pre-primary teachers’ in-service training.

At the end of 2015, the Ministry of Education adopted a new concept of early childhood education and care. It allows the local governments to have more flexibility in organising provision, based on the needs of children and families. The ESF and the European Refugee Fund supported the creation of 3,200 new kindergarten or childcare places. EUR 47 million was invested between 2014 and 2020 (Source: IECE – Estonia Country Questionnaire, pp. 17–18).

The state budget covers all the expenses of state schools. Most special schools are state-owned.

Local government covers the operating expenses of municipal schools.

Based on the number of learners in municipal schools, the state subsidy to be allocated to rural municipalities and cities is determined annually in accordance with the State Budget Act. The subsidy covers the labour and continuous training expenses of the teachers, heads of the municipal schools and the expenses relating to educational literature.

The annual State Budget Act grants support to cover the schools’ operating expenses regarding learners who receive enhanced or special support. Similar subsidies are also available to private general education schools.

The allocated state educational subsidy for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) takes into account pupils’ specific character and needs. It supports the implementation of inclusive education:

  • The state supports the organisation of instruction for pupils with SEN who require special education on a learner-based principle, taking into account the special character of the study.
  • Upon allocation of a subsidy, no financial distinction is made between the pupil with SEN attending a mainstream or a segregated special class – this is decided by the school and parents.
  • Capitation fees arise in the case of pupils with SEN who are legally eligible to receive enhanced support or special support.

The school manager is responsible for creating a study environment in line with the needs of pupils with SEN.

The state recommends how to organise teaching and education and how to implement support services. Services of special education teachers, speech therapists, psychologists and social pedagogues are ensured free of charge for all learners. The school owner creates opportunities and the head of school organises the implementation of the services of support specialists. The state allocates financial subsidies to recruit support specialists.


Last updated 30/03/2020

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