Youth Work in Estonia

Estonian Youth Work Act defines youth work as the creation of conditions to promote the diverse development of young persons which enable them to be active outside their families, formal education acquired within the adult education system, and work on the basis of their free will.

The organisation of youth work proceeds from the following principles:

  • youth work is performed for the benefit of and together with young people by involving them in the decision making process;
  • upon creating the conditions for the acquisition of knowledge and skills the needs and interests of young people shall be proceeded from;
  • youth work is based on the participation and free will of young people;
  • youth work supports the initiative of young people;
  • youth work proceeds from the principle of equal treatment, tolerance and partnership


Local authorities (council, rural municipality or city government, and institutions and partners administered by them) are responsible for planning the obligations of youth work and the extent of activities and funds arising therefrom.

Local authorities and the state are partners within the context of the organisation of youth work in Estonia. The state creates a legal and strategic framework and supports local authorities in terms of priority areas and provision of services.

The organisation of youth work of local authorities is regulated under the Youth Work Act and Local Government Organisation Act

Functions of the Ministry of Education and Research:

  1. prepares the national programmes of youth work;
  2. supports the activities of youth associations and allocates annual grants thereto;
  3. exercises state and administrative supervision in the field of youth work within the competence provided in the legislation and monitors the purposeful use of funds allocated for youth work from the state budget;
  4. performs other functions provided by law.

Rural municipality and city councils shall:

  1. determine the priorities of youth work in their administrative territories and set out the tasks necessary for the achievement thereof in the rural municipality or city development plans;
  2. approve the support principles of youth associations, youth programmes and youth projects from the rural municipality or city budget, the procedure and conditions for applying for and payment of support, providing the terms and conditions of cost-sharing for the grant of support if necessary as well as the application forms of support and the procedure for reporting the use of support;
  3. support the youth programmes and youth projects of youth associations operating in the administrative territory of the given rural municipality or city in case of existing budget funds;
  4. consult with the youth council, in case it exists, upon planning, implementation and assessment of youth work;
  5. perform other functions connected with the organisation of youth work in their administrative territories.