The Association of Estonian Folk High Schools is the umbrella organization for 13 schools offering non-formal education (liberal adult education) for adult learners all over Estonia. The organization was established in 2010. It is an non-governmental organization acting in the third sector.

What does liberal education mean?

Liberal education is non-formal education (courses, seminars, lectures, workshops etc.) offered to adult learners, with the aim to support adults’ personality development, develop creativity, entrepreneurship, civic activity and social cohesion and without the direct goal of developing professional (job related) competences. Liberal education gives the adult the opportunity to learn or develop the general competencies needed in every role and stage of life. This affects the cohesion of the community and wider society and strengthens democracy.

In Estonia we have 15 counties. Our member organizations are represented in 13 counties. Thus offering liberal education almost all over Estonia. Our folk high schools differ in age and size, but carry the similar principles. They are not to be mistaken for high schools related to the general education system.

What does folk high school mean?

Folk high schools (also Adult Education Center, Danish: Folkehøjskole; Dutch: Volkshogeschool; Finnish: kansanopisto and työväenopisto or kansalaisopisto; German: Volkshochschule and (a few) Heimvolkshochschule; Norwegian: Folkehøgskole(NB)/Folkehøgskule(NN); Swedish: Folkhögskola; Hungarian: népfőiskola) are institutions for adult education that generally do not grant academic degrees, though certain courses might exist leading to that goal. They are most commonly found in Nordic countries and in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.


Folk high schools are modern learning centers that support the versatile and comprehensive development of adults with trainings, seminars, study groups and various learning events. Folk high schools are flexible in their activities, take into account the different needs and wishes of learners and quickly respond to emerging training needs in society. Folk high schools also offer support and training for those who have left school and are therefore also intended for people with low competitiveness.

What does studying at a folk high school provide?

  • develops various skills necessary for life, such as self-management, social adaptation, creativity, cultural awareness, use of ICT, etc.;
  • provides an opportunity for self-expression, for example to engage in a hobby that provides peace of mind, which can lead to finding a new job or profession;
  • supports civic competences, creates the ability to actively contribute to the development of one’s community and country;
  • contributes to a person’s overall well-being – creates a balance between personal and professional life, provides good mental and physical fitness;
  • offers an opportunity to enjoy learning and engage in self-development, which can support further participation in lifelong learning.

The principles of folk high schools in our association

1. The main activity is further training for adults, including free educational training;
2. The principle of open courses: the school offers various courses and trainings, which allows anyone who wants to start studying;
3. Provision of advanced training according to at least three different curricula;
4. Availability of a physical training environment (rooms in constant use);
5. Constituent staff – a full-time manager is required;
6. Year-round training activities, based on the principle of the academic year;
7. Fulfilling the requirements arising from the Adult Education Act

Our work in numbers (2021)


Our organization is overlooked by the board, which has five members. Maire Breede and Ingrid Leinus from Tartu Folk High School. Hannelore Juhtsalu from Tallinn Folk High School, Heli Kaldas from Haapsalu Folk High School and Ly Kallas from Kuressaare High School.

The daily work is coordinated by the CEO Heleriin Jõesalu together with the coordinator for international affairs Tiina Jääger and the head of communation Aksel Lõbu.

Our main activities

Contact us

Heleriin Jõesalu
+372 53 414 905/

Tiina Jääger
International affairs

Aksel Lõbu
Head of Communication