|Editor||Europe of Many Cultures, Alastair Ross Ed.|
Equality of educational opportunity has been regarded as an essential social consensus in Estonia since independence. Comprehensive schooling - the primary instrument of equal educational opportunities - was adopted as a basic educational principle immediately after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1918, and the unification of the curricula of different school levels, with free progression from one level to another, was the core of the Estonian comprehensive school. Elementary schools (grades 1-6) were both compulsory and free of charge. Special mother tongue classes were established for national minorities. Despite some legislative controversies in following the comprehensive school principle ? particularly in the mid-1930s ? Estonian schools remained comprehensive throughout the first period of independence.