College director: Residents who master Estonian language leave Narva

5/12/2016 10:49 PM
Source: BNS, ERR
Category: News

While Narva residents' command of Estonian continues to improve on the whole, this also means that people who have obtained sufficient proficiency in Estonian will leave the city, said Kristina Kallas, director of University of Tartu Narva College, in a panel discussion on Thursday.

While Narva residents' command of Estonian is improving on the whole, this also means that people who have obtained sufficient proficiency in Estonian will leave the city, said Kristina Kallas, director of the Narva College of the University of Tartu, in a panel discussion on Thursday.

"Surveys show that Narva residents' command of Estonian is improving,” said Kallas during a pre-conference panel discussion held ahead of the Lennart Meri Conference 2016. “The problem is that right after a person has gained fluency in Estonian, they will leave Ida-Viru County to look for better career opportunities elsewhere.”

She said that while it was not fair to compare the standards of living in Narva and the Russian city of St. Petersburg, just 150 kilometers, or 95 miles, northeast of the Estonian border, as the latter was a big city with several million inhabitants while the former was not, it was the public services available in both that Russians living in Estonia would compare.

“The quality and availability of public services in Estonia and Russia is like night and day,” said the director of Narva College.

In her opinion, however, the suggested possibility of separatism in Narva was unfounded, and that efforts should instead be concentrated on finding solutions to the economic crises being faced by residents living in the country’s border regions.

“So that people would have work, and a sense of security, and feel like they belong,” said Kallas. “Then the neighboring country’s president would lose the opportunity [to interfere] here. You cannot create contentment by constantly questioning the loyalty of people here.”

Ethnic Estonians currently make up less than four percent of the total population of Narva, a predominantly Russian-speaking city of 60,000 located directly on the northeastern Estonian border with Russia and the largest city in Ida-Viru County, which, according to Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund records, currently has the highest rate of unemployment among all Estonian counties, exceeding 12 percent.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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