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General information

Youth work in Tartu


Youth work in Tartu is focussed on promoting constructive leisure activities for young people aged 7-19. There are about 13,500 people in this age group in Tartu, which is the primary target for activities organised by hobby schools and associations of recreational activities (approx. 14,000 participants), hobby groups in schools (approx. 7500 participants) and youth centres (approx. 2500 visitors annually).

The primary areas of youth work in Tartu are:

  • diversifying opportunities for involvement for young people and increasing their inclusion in the development of the city;
  • finding opportunities to enhance entrepreneurship, creativity, self-initiative and common activities among young people and to help them enter the labour market;
  • increasing the availability of youth work and supporting employment readiness among young people;
  • developing evidence-based youth work using appropriate environments and methods;
  • increasing the professionalism of youth workers and developing a system to value and recognise them.
Photo by Jaak Nilson

Recreational activities

Extracurricular education and recreational activities are systematic, instructed activities outside of school and work. People who take part in recreational activities gather once or twice a week to engage in a common hobby such as handicrafts, dance, theatre, craft work, brain teasers, circus, cooking, pottery or robotics. Click here for more information on extracurricular education. The Department of Culture of Tartu City Government provides funding to enable approx. 2000 young people to attend hobby groups organised by non-profit organisations. For more information on extracurricular education and recreational activities, see the trilingual publication ‘Youth recreation opportunities in Tartu’.

Extracurricular education

Extracurricular education and recreational activities are systematic, instructed activities outside of school and work. Extracurricular education can be obtained from hobby schools that hold a state-issued education licence to teach dance, sports, nature, art or technology or follow other extracurricular study programmes. Lessons usually take place several times a week. Click here for more information on recreational activities. There are around 50 hobby schools with around 14,000 students in Tartu. For more information on extracurricular education and recreational activities, see the trilingual publication ‘Youth recreation opportunities in Tartu’.

Open youth work

Open youth work is a flexible set of activities and methods that strive to give young people inspiring opportunities for self-development. The open youth work approach is used first and foremost by youth centres, providing an open space to meet friends and engage in club-related activities. Centres usually feature things such as table football, board games, billiards, Xbox, movie nights, cooking nights, photography groups, city camps and craft work groups. Supporting initiatives devised by young people – such as parties or collective trips to an animal shelter – forms an important part of what youth centres do. Youth centres provide opportunities for everyone to take part in recreational activities. Joining a hobby group or a club at a youth centre does not usually require prior registration or entail a membership fee.

There are municipal centres and centres managed by non-profit organisations in Tartu. These centres are annually visited by 2000-3000 young people.

Tartu also makes use of mobile street-based youth work. This service covers four areas: work on the streets; work in groups; specific cases; and community work.

Description of services at Tartu youth centres from 01.01.2018.

Employment readiness

Various services, ranging from career advice to summer employment opportunities, have been created to support the employment readiness of young people. Anne Youth Centre organises group employment opportunities for young people in Tartu: a youth work camp for 300-400 participants (www.noortelatern.ee). Important partners that help promote the employment readiness of young people are the Rajaleidja Centre, the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund and Tartu Business Advisory Services. These institutions help provide practical training opportunities for young people who do not speak Estonian or who have special needs, and also help with practical training, vocational education, the establishment of student companies and more.

Tartu Youth Council

Tartu Youth Council is a representative body for young people. It was established in 2005 and is designed to provide civic education. To this end, Tartu Youth Council works with Tartu City Government, commenting on various documents related to young people, organising debates between youngsters and politicians, giving advice on the funding of projects related to young people and conducting council simulations.

On average, there are 15-20 active members on the Youth Council.


Consistent monitoring of the situation of young people is considered important in the development of youth work in Tartu. Among other things, the City of Tartu promotes research on young people and youth work by granting awards for studies carried out by university students on the topic of youth work in Tartu. Most of the study results are only available in Estonian. Nevertheless, English-language summaries of theses written by students at the University of Tartu can be found in the DSpace database.

Last changed 29.10.2018