PISA study: the Estonian basic education is the best in Europe

According to the Programme for International Student Assessment, a premier global metric for education, compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the results of Estonian 15-year-olds are the best in Europe and among the strongest in the entire world.

The PISA study of 2015 concentrated on natural sciences and also tested pupils in mathematics and functional reading.

According to the study, the knowledge and skills of Estonian 15-year-olds in biology, geography, physics and chemistry are among the best in the world – the first in Europe and third on the global scale. The number of top achievers who can solve extremely complicated tasks, is higher than ever before – standing at 13.5 per cent, while the OECD average is eight. Among the European countries, Estonia has the least low performers – over twice as little compared with other countries’ averages, the Estonian ministry of education said in a statement.

Estonian teachers and schools are determined

The Estonian minister of education, Mailis Reps, said the results showed the Estonian schools are ambitious and teachers very determined at their jobs. “We’ve developed our education system, dwelling on the correct principles, because the effect of these changes will also be seen in 10-15 years,” she said. “I’m glad that we’ve ensured and kept the status of a top country in the field of education, despite our more austere means compared with other countries.”

In mathematics, the Estonian youths came second in Europe together with Switzerland, and ninth in the world. Almost 90% of the Estonian youngsters have at least the basic knowledge in mathematics, which puts Estonia among the five best countries.

In functional reading skills, Estonian pupils come third in Europe and sixth in the world.

The PISA study takes into account the students’ ability to use their knowledge. “That is why these results are more important than just the testing of knowledge,” Gunda Tire, the administrator of the Study in Estonia, said in a statement. “We want to know whether the youngsters are ready for the challenges in the future and how the Estonian education system supports that.”

On the downside, the PISA study said that although the gap in the results of boys and girls has decreased, there are still more weaker boys than there are girls. The study also pointed out that there is a significant difference when comparing Estonian and Russian-language schools in the country.

PISA was introduced in 2000 and has tested pupils every three years since. The OECD’s PISA 2015 tested around 540,000 15-year-old students in 72 countries and economies on science, reading, maths and collaborative problem-solving. The main focus was on science, an increasingly important part of today’s economy and society.


Cover: Estonian schoolkids (the image is illustrative.)

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Estonian World is a global independent online magazine, founded in London in 2012 and headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia. The magazine has editorial representations in London, New York, Toronto and Tallinn, and contributors all over the world, on every continent.

  • snorlis

    Scam, fake, no way, the schools are way underfunded, this study doesn’t really mean that the education system is better it could also just mean that the children are learning more themselves.

    • Toomas Raaga


    • Really

      Really! Fair enough not the richest country but Estonia spends 4% of it’s GDP on education.

      • snorlis

        The % of the GDP spend on something doesn’t mean that the country in question doesn’t mean much, because GDP % only shows how much of the countries yearly earned money they spend on something. It doesn’t actually show how much “RAW” money they spend on each student or the equipment or the buildings or the teachers. Nor does it say anything about the quality and quantity of the teachers.
        As someone who has spent a long time studing in Estonia (the “poorer” region of it) i can say that the school buildings were collapsing, the equipment was just missing, overall presence of any kind of money was missing. GDP spending should be tought of kind of like money and inflation, if the GDP of a country is low (kind of like Estonia) then the % of the countries GDP spent on education or anything else should increase and decrease (even though that i would not like) depending on if the countries GDP is quite high (like the USA). Just saying that a country is spending this and that much of it’s GDP on something doesn’t mean much at all.

        • Really

          And how many years ago did you go to school there?

          • snorlis

            I still do.

          • Really

            Sorry to hear you have it so tough. I know families in Estonia, they live in small towns and villages. Their children receive excellent public education and school facilities are very modern and of high standard.

        • Valdi Reinas

          So- all I have to know, is that all the tests done were the same for every child and every country- the results show the truth…

    • sg

      USA schools are extremely well funded, but they don’t beat the OECD average.

      Apparently Estonia has sufficiently funded the schools and has lots of smart students.

      The USA has many many students with very low abilities. The USA actually does a pretty good job considering how many very low ability students we have.

      Congratulations to Estonia. I would love to visit someday. Seems like an absolutely lovely country. Best to you!

      • snorlis

        My point was that more funding doesn’t mean smarter students.
        Also thank you.
        No one should visit Estonia though, unless you want to freeze to death with despair, depression and vodka. Also it is quite dark(don’t know about Tallinn or Tartu though).

        • AJIBOYE

          Could you please shut up, you don’t know about the 2 biggest cities yet you think you have an opinion about the country.

          • snorlis

            Well yea, i do think i have an opinion, what is wrong with having an opinion. 2 biggest cities, yea they are, and so what ? What do you mean by me not knowing about the 2 biggest cities ? It can be dark in those cities as well. The northen hemisphere is darker and cooler than the souther hemisphere. It really seems that you don’t get what i meant or said.

          • snorlis

            Also if you don’t have any real reason to comment then please keep it to yourself.

        • Joanne Chiusano Kapp

          shame on you snorlis. Every visit to
          Estonia has been a joy for me.

          • snorlis

            Ok…visiting and living are different things, you do know that right ? Also do you know something about jokes, sarcasm and such ?

        • Joanne Chiusano Kapp

          I failed to mention that I visited Estonia in the winter time I found it even more beautiful. I loved sleighing between Finnish candles.