The Justice Ministry says the idea to start covering the costs of Estonian studies in prisons has started paying off, with several hundred receiving proficiency certificates each year.
"In 2011, 430 prisoners completed Estonian studies with positive results on various levels, which is 171 more than in 2010," a spokesperson for the ministry told uudised.err.ee.
The ministry said teaching the official language to prisoners is an important part of rehabilitation as it increases the chance of a law-abiding lifestyle in liberty.
"About 700 study places are planned for Estonian at various levels. Prisoners gladly take the opportunity to take the Estonian proficiency examination in prison so that when they are released they have better possibilities of finding work," said Priit Talv, spokesperson for the Ministry.
For 2011, standards for study of Estonian in prison were developed, covering curricula at various levels.
A motivated prisoner with no Estonian ability can acquire B2 level in 538 hours, plus independent study.
"By the second half of 2012 we plan to complete Estonian textbooks conforming to Estonain study standards for prisons. An 80-hour textbook is already in use, and 150-hour A2 level materials are about to be completed and a B1 book and workbook as well," said Talv.