Narva Remains Defiant Over Language Requirements for Principals ({{commentsTotal}})

Narva (left) and Ivangorod
Narva (left) and Ivangorod Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The Narva city government has vowed not to sack a group of principals on the basis on a lack of Estonian language skills, despite losing an appeal against an injunction to do so.

According to the court ruling, the injunction took effect at the end of May and the city had until June 10 to confirm to the Language Inspectorate, who issued the injunction, that all requirements have been filled, reported Põhjarannik, a local newspaper.

Chairman of the Narva council, Aleksandr Jefimov, told ERR radio today that they will not respect the injunction, adding: “If we went ahead and fired the principals, the situation will repeat with teachers and support staff, and the whole municipal education system will come under fire.”

“It is a political question. We run a Russian-language city with Russian-speaking principals and in protecting them, we defend the whole school system, as at the end of the day, it will be the children who will be affected,” said Jefimov.

“Heads of schools lead by example, and if a principal fights defiantly against the Estonian language, how will this affect teachers and students? If we require a B2 level of Estonian from secondary school graduates, but not from teachers, then those children can ask if a person has become the head of a education institute not having learned Estonian, why should they?” said Ilmar Tomusk, the head of the inspectorate.

Tomusk added that if the injunction is not filled, they will issue a new one, accompanied by a fine, and if that degree is ignored, they will continue to repeat the process.

Jefimov said they will pay the 640 fines for the principals and plan to dispute each new fine.

The injunction affects three out of ten municipality schools in the city, whose heads have not passed the required Estonian-language exams or have not shown enough improvement for injunctions to be postponed.