In relation to the escalating war situation in Ukraine, the Government of Estonia fully supports the reception of war refugees in Estonia.
At the 28 February meeting, Minister Liina Kersna assured the Minister of Education and Research of Ukraine Serhiy Shkarlet that Estonia is ready to offer Ukrainians opportunities to continue their education in primary and general education as well as vocational and higher education.
In addition to the democratic values of the Government of Estonia, Article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states the obligation to provide complete aid to children affected by war.According to the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, everyone has the right to education.
Schooling is compulsory for school-age children to the extent specified by law. A child with a foreign citizenship who is of-age for compulsory education has the obligation to attend compulsory schooling in Estonia.
It is important to acknowledge that among the families arriving from the areas of the armed conflict in Ukraine, there are those who come to Estonia only for the duration of the war and wish to return home as soon as possible, as well as those families who plan to stay in Estonia for a longer period.
We will provide children and young people from Ukraine with opportunities to continue their education based on a short-term and long-term plan. In the case of the short-term plan, there is no clear expectation that the student will continue their studies in Estonia on a permanent basis, but the preconditions are set. The aim of the long-term plan is to integrate children into the local education system.
The Estonian Constitution gives parents the right to decide on matters concerning their child’s compulsory schooling. This decision includes the time of stay in Estonia, the language of instruction and the language or cultural space with which one is associated. Educational institutions and school administrators can give parents advice and introduce possibilities to help them make informed decisions.
When providing learning opportunities, we must also take into account the fact that not all people arriving from Ukraine are necessarily Ukrainian speakers, but have other mother tongues, including Russian.
We prefer to offer children and youth arriving to Estonia from Ukraine opportunities to continue their education in schools with Estonian as the language of instruction. If the parent wishes, they can also choose schools with Russian as the language of instruction.
Children and young people who have arrived in Estonia can participate in education as follows:
- Pre-school education, in kindergartens and childcare for pre-school children (1,5-7-year-olds).
- Basic education, in general compulsory education schools for children and young people (7-17 year-olds).
- Upper-secondary, vocational and higher education, in upper secondary schools, vocational schools, universities of applied sciences and universities.
- Hobby education and activities, in educational institutions, including hobby schools, in general starting from the age of 7.
- Youth work, in youth centres for 7 to 26-year-olds.
- NB! Admission to Higher Education Institutions of Ukraine in 2022
- Information for people fleeing Ukraine
- Information material (PDF): Welcome to Estonia!
- Assessment of undocumented qualifications held by refugees from Ukraine
- Information, methodological advice and study materials can be found on the website of the Education and Youth Board
- Guidance on dealing with the Ukraine topic at school (see also: in Estonian, in Russian)
- Information for EU member states: authorities, schools / colleges / universities, and employers in the EU
- Information about Freedom School for Ukrainian war refugees
- NEWS: Estonia opens Freedom School for Ukrainian war refugees and sets up educational advisory service (25.05.2022), The Government of Estonia allocates €5.1 million to educational institutions for supporting Ukrainan refugee children education (20.06.2022)
- Education advisory service - information on vocational training and study opportunities at the Freedom School. For information you can call the advisory office 735 0575 or write to email@example.com.
- Ukrainian-language psychologists' helpline 116006 open to calls every day from 16-20.
You can find the most up-to-date information on the security situation on Estonian Government website kriis.ee. For questions, contact the helpline 1247.
School children from an armed conflict area
It is very difficult for children and their families to come to Estonia from the crisis area. The classroom and school must be prepared to welcome children from the armed conflict area with a friendly and helpful atmosphere.
Explain to the other children that there is war in Ukraine, many fathers and brothers and friends have been mobilised, many have died and a lot has been destroyed. Families have left their homes and travelled a long way. They may only have a suitcase-worth of personal belongings with them. We do not ask the child about the situation in Ukraine. If the child wishes to talk, we are ready to listen and share their burdens.
We will provide the child with essential school supplies.
We will not punish children for breaking rules that have not been explained to the child and their family. We will not strongly enforce rules that are not a priority, such as notebooks being unlined, inside shoes not meeting the school's standards, binders of the wrong size.
Please note that the family may not immediately have access to the Internet, printing or other amenities at home. We will give homework only in writing on paper.
The first day at an Estonian school
- Agree in advance which of the students will be the new student's main helper and friend, helping them find classrooms, toilets, the canteen, etc. and doing all the daily activities with them.
- Show the new student the whole school building. Show them where everything is, how the doors lock and unlock. If there is anything with a code, test it out together.
- Give the student a timetable with the lesson times and room numbers. During the first weeks, the child may get lost in school. Ask their friend to make sure they get to the right place. Forgive them for being late.
- The main thing is that the child can continue as normal a school life as possible, while feeling safe and secure at school. Smile.
- Write a greeting on the board or door in Estonian and in the child's mother language “Tere tulemast meie kooli“ / “Ласкаво просимо до нашої школи“.