Estonia: Civics and citizenship education in Estonia: Policy design, normatives, and practices




curricula, citizenship education, citizenship normatives, teachers autonomy



  • Estonian citizenship education has a clear and established curricula
  • The bilingual education system is prominent and reproduces socio-economic and democratic citizenship inequality
  • Teachers’ autonomy is crucial

Purpose: The main aim of this article is to analyze Estonian civics and citizenship education. We focus on multi-level policy design and implementation, teachers’ roles, and educational practices in the classroom.  In order to achieve the aim, we analyzed the national curricula from the citizenship normative perspective, conducted interviews with teachers and students.

Findings: Our main findings are related to the controversies related to theory and practice - the overload of curricula and emphasis on knowledge means that teachers play a key role in implementing citizenship education in Estonia. We conclude by giving policy suggestions related to the curricula development and separately focusing on minority schools.

Author Biographies

Nikolai Kunitsõn, Tallinn University

Nikolai Kunitsõn,  is a Ph.D. student in Politics and Governance at Tallinn University. His research focuses on integration issues, focusing on the formal education system and how it reproduces inequality in society. 

Leif Kalev

Leif Kalev is a professor of State and Citizenship Theory in Tallinn University. His research focuses on citizenship, statehood, democracy and the interrelations of politics, policy and polity.

Triin Ulla

Triin Ulla is a teacher and a Ph.D student in School of Educational Sciences in Tallinn University. Her key interests are inclusive education and citizenship education.


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How to Cite

Kunitsõn, N., Kalev, L., & Ulla, T. (2022). Estonia: Civics and citizenship education in Estonia: Policy design, normatives, and practices. JSSE - Journal of Social Science Education, 21(4).



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