In Estonian education strategy education has been defined as the generator and maintainer of personal cultural and social values. This means that education forms and carries on value attitudes which serve as a basis for personal happiness, cultural sustainability and interoperability of the society. Participation in education facilitates the development of the state and develops the human resources of the society.

In the draft of the Estonian Education Strategy, education is defined broadly. Education is a precondition for a happy life and the basis for cultural sustainability and social interaction. It also helps the country’s economic progress and develops our common human assets.

Education statistics provide information on educational institutions, educational expenditures, people obtaining education, students having graduated from school and on broad groups of studies from pre-school education to adult education. The data on formal education have been collected and processed by the Ministry of Education and Research and Statistics Estonia. Since the academic year 2005/2006 education statistics have been produced based on the data from the Estonian Education Information System (EHIS) (pre-school education since the academic year 2008/2009). The educational level of adults and the data on studies have been received from the three internationally co-ordinated surveys: the Labour Force Survey (yearly), Adult Education in Enterprises (2000, 2006, 2011) and Estonian Adult Education (1997, 2007, 2011).

International comparison of educational indicators and education statistics are the main pillar for the official education policy. It enables to compare the policy trends of education in Estonia with the education policy of other developed countries and use the received information and experiences for making better decisions. The most important international strategies and guidelines are related to the “Europe 2020” Strategy in the framework of which the European Commission has set the targets for the year 2020. The targets in the field of education are the following: at least 95% o children aged four up to the beginning of the compulsory school age (in Estonia children aged 4–6) should participate in pre-school education, the share of youngsters aged 15 with small functional reading skills, literacy of mathematics and natural sciences should be below 15% (according to PISA survey), the share of students with low educational level (basic education or below) not participating in education should be less than 10% (among persons aged 18–24), at least 40% of persons aged 30–34 should have attained the tertiary education (higher or vocational secondary education), at least 15% of adults aged 25–64 should participate in lifelong learning.