President 'disappointed' that education system still not Estonian-only

President Kersti Kaljulaid at another Ida-Viru County school, in Kiviõli.
President Kersti Kaljulaid at another Ida-Viru County school, in Kiviõli. Source: Raigo Pajula/President's Office

President Kersti Kaljulaid says she is disappointed that Estonia's educational system is not fully in the Estonian language, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

Speaking to Latvian public broadcaster LSM, the president said that: "I have been calling on our politicians to act for three years. I am a little disappointed that this coalition, which is probably the most nationalistic - if I may say so - or the most patriotic, of all, has not transferred the education system as a whole Estonian."

The president said that concern about the national language in Estonia was standard

"It is normal for small countries to worry about the development of their language. Do people learn that language even if they live here? If you look at it from a human rights point of view, we as an advanced European country must offer all people living here equal opportunities for integration into our society," she said.

"That is why we have a duty to ensure that every child who starts their education in Estonia has the opportunity to study in Estonian. If we can respect the rights of people who have legally settled in Estonia, it will also reduce our concerns about what happens to the Estonian language and culture. We know that," the president continued.

The issue, which has seen the senior coalition Centre Party traditionally supportive of Russian language education in Russian-majority areas, in opposition to, for instance, the Reform Party, which wants the switch to Estonian-only, affects the easternmost county of Estonia, Ida-Viru County, the most, due to its large proportion of native Russian speakers. The state upper secondary school in Jõhvi is to switch to Estonian-only next year, but the upper secondary in nearby Kohtla-Järve, for example, will remain bilingual.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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