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Report: One fifth of teachers in Russian schools have insufficient Estonian

The Integration Foundation conference begins on Thursday at 10 a.m. (picture is illustrative).
The Integration Foundation conference begins on Thursday at 10 a.m. (picture is illustrative). Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Close to one fifth of teachers of Russian-language general education teachers do not meet language requirements, the Language Inspectorate (Keeleinspektsioon) finds.

According to Irene Käosaar, director of the Integration Foundation (Integratsiooni sihtasutus), political indecision in Estonian educational life has been suppressed, with the result that many Russian-speaking basic schools do not implement teaching the state language responsibly, ETV's current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera reported Sunday evening.

In Käosaar's opinion, Estonian education should have made the switch to the Estonian language immediately after the restoration of independence (in 1991-ed.). 

The current educational system demonstrates in about one third of Russian elementary schools, the level of teaching the state language is such that students can only say a few phrases in Estonian on leaving those schools.

"Obviously, we should have switched to Estonian education a long time ago," Käosaar said, according to ERR.

"Clearly we should have done that from the beginning, possibly at Kindergarten and certainly at basic school level, which we have not really carried out as of today, because there are no political decisions at present," she continued.

"A 60/40 system at upper secondary schools is talked about, but at basic school they actually only teach Estonian twice a week, and that's all. Obviously this is not enough," Käosaar added.

According to Kristelle Kaarmaa, a lecturer at Jõhvi state upper secondary school, which opened four years ago, the biggest surprise when the school was launched was the sudden influx of students with insufficient knowledge of the national language.

"We were faced with the fact that young people coming from Russian schools do not speak Estonian, and unfortunately this problem is just as relevant today," Kaarmaa said.

According to educators, if the coalition wants to maintain Russian schools, the level of teaching Estonian should be monitored there.

Ilmar Tomusk, Director General of the Language Inspectorate, also drew attention to this in Õiguskeel magazine, published on the justice ministry's website.

According to the inspectorate, slightly more than 600 teachers out of the total 3,200 teachers in Russian-language general education schools did not meet the Estonian language requirements last year, ERR reports.

The original Aktuaalne kaamera segment is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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