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Outside school: How Estonian students spend their time

21 November 2023
by Eva Toome

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In Estonia, education doesn’t end with the school day. So, what happens when classes are over?

For younger pupils with shorter days, schools often provide long-day programs blending study and play under teacher supervision. Here, they can complete homework, pursue hobbies, eat, and play.

Hobby education, with its own curriculum, is also important. In hobby groups, students can explore diverse interests, from robotics to drama. Music and sports, in particular, are popular. Almost every school offers numerous hobby groups, often for free, while many specialized hobby schools also exist.    

But there’s more. In every corner of Estonia, you’ll find youth centres – a safe space for young people to gather, be it for board games or to dive into volunteer work.

Estonian students enjoy a shorter academic year compared to many countries, with long summer breaks and additional holidays during the school year. This time, there are various camps that keep students engaged. From football to surfing, singing to science, organized by hobby schools, youth centres, and various organizations. There are also urban camps that offer daily activities.

Among teens, Summer Youth Work Camps are popular. The initiative offers work possibilities for 13-19-year-olds for a few hours a day as well as the chance to earn money, whether in a library, at a gas station, or on a farm. Of course, it’s not all work; there’s plenty of fun too, because spending time with one’s peers is a big part of such camps. These camps do more than fill summer days; they lay the groundwork for a lifetime of active participation in community and civic life.

From an early age, young people in Estonia are encouraged to voice their opinions. This begins with student governments in schools and reaches all the way to youth councils at municipal levels. A good example is also our popular youth information portal, which is managed and led by the young people themselves. In Estonia, young voices matter. By the way, did you know that here, you can vote in local elections from the age of 16? So, there is truly something for everyone. Opportunities to be active and make an impact. To speak, to act, to succeed

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