More than a quarter of the children of new immigrants to take up residence in Estonia are enrolled in Russian-language schools, it appears from data made available by the Ministry of Education and Research.
In the 2016-2017 academic year, altogether 233 children of new immigrants enrolled in grades 4-9 in Estonia, Kersti Kiviruut, chief expert at the General Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Research, told BNS. Of these children, 109, or 47 percent, of them went to an Estonian-language school, and 68 children, or 29 percent of them, to a Russian-language school. In addition, 41 children began studies based on the English-language EB or IB curriculum or regular English-language curriculum, eight children joined the Estonian language immersion program and seven children enrolled in the Finnish School of Tallinn.
75.8 percent of all pupils in Estonia were obtaining their basic education in the Estonian language, 18.2 percent in the Russian language, 5.6 percent in an Estonian language immersion program, 0.4 percent in the English language and 0.1 percent in the Finnish language during the past school year.
Kiviruut told BNS that there was no immediate answer to the question of why such a large proportion of the children of new immigrants had been placed in Russian-language schools, as no survey had been conducted on this matter.
The Estonian education system defines as new immigrants pupils whose native language is one other than the language of instruction at the school and who have never learned or received an education in the Estonian language. The category consists of the children of people who have arrived in Estonia for employment, to live here, or as part of a business arrangement, as well as the children of beneficiaries of international protection, including refugees.
Members of Russian communities of other countries who enroll in Russian-language schools after arriving in Estonia make up a separate category.
Editor: Aili Vahtla