Concern Over City-Funded 'Lyceum' Using Russian Federation Teaching Materials ({{commentsTotal}})

Despite numerous breaches highlighted by the Ministry of Education, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart says a Russian education center that provides extensive extracurricular instruction in core subjects plans to expand its activities in Tallinn and possibly apply for an education license.

According to the Ministry of Education and Research, which sent experts to visit the Russian Lyceum yesterday, the center provides more than 300 hours of tutoring in conventional subjects to students of Russian schools, including teaching history and social studies based on materials compiled in the Russian Federation.

The Ministry states in a memorandum that due to the amount of instruction, the foundation, which is city-funded, must apply for an education license and scrap the name “lyceum” in its title, as it is a clear allusion to upper secondary education.

However, Kõlvart argues that the move would limit the students' access to extracurricular studies in their native language. In recent years, Estonian schools have been required to make a transition to mostly Estonian as the language of instruction, and Kõlvart says this has created a need for extra tutoring. Furthermore, many families lack the funds for private tuition, Kõlvart said.

The Reform Party, in the opposition on Tallinn's city council, is planning a vote of non-confidence in Kõlvart, for his role in what they say is obstructing the full transition to predominantly Estonian language of instruction in all gymnasiums.

The Russian Lyceum of Tallinn is a foundation created two years ago with the intention of establishing a private municipal school with Russian as the language of instruction. The school was denied a license in November 2012 as it failed to meet requirements for teacher qualifications. The initiative was then halted by an amendment to the Private Schools Act pushed through by the Cabinet in January 2013, which required private schools, like their public ilk, to comply with the rule that 60 percent of upper secondary school instruction be in the Estonian language.  

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