Advocacy Group Not Ready for Phaseout of Russian at High Schools (1)

Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
12/12/2011 12:19 PM
Category: Education

An organization representing part of the Russian-speaking community still hopes to put the brake on the 60 percent changeover to Estonian as the language of instruction in upper secondary schools.

The change, which was introduced this year, continues to be controversial for some Russian-speakers. ETV reported that a group called Russian School in Estonia met at the Russian Culture Center and drafted the text of an appeal to the Estonian government and international organizations.

Tallinn Deputy Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart, who is in charge of education affairs, said no one is opposed to the changeover in priciple but said schools should be able to choose their language of instruction.

"The law gives the opportunity to choose the language of instruction. This option is also confirmed in our Constitution," he said.

This, according to Irene Käosaar, an Education Ministry official, is a factual error. "The Constitution states that parents have the right to choose a school and parents do have the right to choose a school in Estonia," she said. "The Constitution also says that all people living in Estonia have the right to receive an education in Estonian."

Käosaar said talk of Russian-language schools being abolished is an exaggeration as Russian instruction will continue to take place on the lower secondary school level and partially on the upper secondary school level.

That is not enough for the Russian School in Estonia organization, which says no one wants to study in a "foreign language."

Three schools have received a deferral for the transition to Estonian, ETV reported, including one secondary school for adults.

Kristopher Rikken

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