The Tallinn City Government does not support the bills submitted by the Reform Party, which would start the five-year transition from the kindergarten to unified Estonian-language education and dropping kindergarten fees in the capital.
The argument put forward by the Reform party is that the younger a child is, the easier it is for them to learn. "For children, a better education means less educational disadvantage, less segregation in education, their working life and choice of place of residence," said Reform Party members Kristen Michal and Õnne Pillak.
But Tallinn City Government does not agree with the changes put forward by the bill.
The City Government says teaching and education in a second language in a childcare institution takes place at the discretion of the local government council. A decision adopted by the City Council on Feb. 6, 2014, authorizes Russian-language teaching and education activities in some childcare institutions or groups of children. At the same time, children are guaranteed Estonian language education on the basis of the national curriculum.
"All institutions start teaching children Estonian at the age of three. Teaching is done through separate language activities conducted by Estonian language teachers, by integrating language teachers with other activities, or by applying language immersion methodology. Active immersion groups, and the number of kindergartens and groups joining the language immersion program increases every school year," said the city government.
The City Government also considers that in Tallinn, anyone who wishes to attend an Estonian-language childcare institution or group, regardless of the child's home language, is guaranteed. It is estimated that there are already enough vacancies in municipal institutions, as of Oct. 15, there were 474 spaces most of them in groups for 3-7 year olds.
Kindergarten fees to remains
The city government also does not support the Reform Party's second proposal to abolish the place allowance in kindergartens. If the parent is unable to pay the full amount of the parent's fee, they can apply for discounted fees.
The Reform Party said the kindergarten's place fee in Tallinn in 2020 is €71.13 per child. The loss of the fee and its payment to the city would cost €18.9 million per year. It was proposed to abolish the place fee as of Sept. 1, 2020 and would be an additional cost of approximately €6 million for Tallinn next year.
Editor: Helen Wright