The Integratsion and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) has announced a call for projects designed to address a situation where only 15 percent of Russian speakers in Estonia are completely fluent in the official language.
The European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals and the Ministry of Culture are putting up 240,910 euros, which MISA will distribute to the best projects for administering language and Citizenship Act courses.
According to the Estonian Society Integration Monitoring 2008 data, 19 percent of the Russophone population in Estonia understood no Estonian, 25 percent understood some, 24 percent understood and spoke some Estonian, and 17 percent understood, spoke and wrote some Estonian. Only less than one in six was fluent.
"Thus half have passive proficiency and only one-third are actively proficient," said civic education and migration coordinator at MISA, Tea Tammistu.
"As the unemployment rate is higher among the non-Estonians with deficient Estonian language skills and most of the European third-country citizens live in Harju and Ida-Viru counties, this open call for projects focuses on creating ways for these unemployed segments and citizens of third countries to learn Estonian with the goal to increase their chances to obtain work,“ she added.
Tammistu said the monitoring results showed that respondents with a first language other than Estonian consider difficulty of the citizenship examination a key reason for low application rates for citizenship. Thus the second part of the MISA tender is looking for free Citizenship Act preparatory courses.
As of the end of 2010, there were over 200,000 people living in Estonia on the basis of a valid residence permit or right of residence, with 100,000 of them having unspecified citizenship. There are over 98,000 Russian citizens and 13,000 citizens from other countries. Close to 2,000 of the stateless people are under 15.
The applications by those looking to administer projects can be submitted until August 15, with an information day for applicants held at MISA on August 2.