Education ministry bows to pressure over kindergarten curriculum criticism

Kindergarten. Source: Urmas Luik/Eesti Meedia/SCANPIX

The latest version of the Estonian kindergarten curriculum has been scrapped following pressure from kindergarten teachers and other interested parties, with a new working group, the third of its kind, to start drafting a replacement, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

As reported on ERR News, the recent curriculum, drawn up under the auspices of the ministry of education, which itself replaced and earlier version authored by kindergarten teachers, academics and parents, was panned by kindergarten teachers and other experts.

The curriculum was found by many to be hugely stifling, reading more like something from the Soviet era, with children encouraged to dance traditional polkas, engage in formalized play, and with teachers' own creativity relegated. Critics also claimed it had been political in nature; the curriculum reportedly also made claims, for instance that children growing up in bilingual homes would suffer in their development, or that role-playing games were harmful, with little or no factual basis to back up the assertions.

The latest version of the curriculum will follow a new working group, Kristi Vinter-Nemvalts, undersecretary for education, language and youth policy at the education ministry, said.

Teachers from the University of Tartu and the University of Tallinn sent a letter to the ministry last week, expressing their concerns.

Vinter-Nemvalts told ERR Wednesday that this response from universities has been the most meaningful of all the feedback received so far, and will be taken into account in the drafting of the new curriculum.

The new working group is scheduled to start its work in mid-December.

Vinter-Nemvalts said, with a final draft of the curriculum ready next May for another approval stage.

"This (i.e. the new working group-ed.) is, so to speak, only the first phase, and the next phase is still to draw it as a draft. So I think we could have at least a year's perspective of getting the curriculum out to kindergartens in Estonia," she added.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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