The Tallinn Education Department is projecting that about 1,000 children under the age of seven will not have a spot in a nursery school this year.
Anne Targem, specialist with the preschool education department, said the city will be creating 33 new nursery school classes, which comes to 744 new spots. That includes spots at a brand-new school opening this fall, the Kihnu nursery school, Eesti Päevaleht reported.
But that is not enough: there are 6,472 on the waiting list, with the city estimating that 5,649 represent real need (i.e. some children may stay at home or attend a private preschool).
"Based on our experience, we can say that 70 percent of parents with children age 1-2 are actually seeking a spot in Tallinn, and that 100 percent of parents of 2-3-year-olds do so," said Targem.
The main shortfall is in places for kids three and under, while the city says it does have openings to offer older preschoolers.
By law, municipalities are required to guarantee all children at least 18 months of age a spot in a nursery school. But cash-strapped local governments have had trouble complying fully.
In Estonia, kindergartens (nursery schools) intended to complement home instruction, but many working parents rely on them for daycare.