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Isamaa Tallinn group wants all-Estonian schools within six years

Mart Luik in ERR's News House in October.
Mart Luik in ERR's News House in October. Source: ERR

Isamaa's Tallinn city council group has presented a draft bill aimed at making the Estonian capital's municipal schools Estonian-only within a six-year period, Baltic News Service reports.

"To this day, we continue to reproduce a society of two languages which in the long run is more detrimental to one side, and is not sustainable," said Isamaa group chair Mart Luik.

"Operating schools is an area of responsibility for the municipality, and several municipalities in Estonia have already decided to switch fully to learning in the Estonian language. The capital city cannot remain a bystander," Luik continued.

Luik noted that every Estonian resident needs to be able to speak Estonian, adding it is easiest to learn a language when people are young.

Fluency in Estonian will in turn ensure better opportunities for young people in the future, Luik said.

At present, public schools where the language of learning is a language other than Estonian must teach specific subjects in Estonian, with the proportion of such classes required to be at least 60 percent of the total.

Isamaa said that the main factor preventing that proportion growing is a shortage of Estonian-speaking teachers in Russian schools. 

"Regarding Estonia, Tallinn enjoys a special place in being the country's biggest hub, and consequently having good prerequisites for the transition to Estonian-language learning. In addition, the city is in possession of sufficient means to see to necessary training for teachers," Luik said.

"In our opinion, six years is enough to gradually transition to learning fully in Estonian. How exactly that should be done is a matter for agreement between the schools and the City of Tallinn Education Board. We, have however, defined a clear objective which should be reached during that time. Tallinn, with its many Russian-language schools, plays a key role in this process," Luik continued.

Isamaa's extended board itself adopted a statement earlier this month calling for the transition to learning in Estonian in schools in all municipalities of Estonia.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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