SDE MP: Education minister should resolve Ida-Viru Estonian teaching issue

SDE MP Katri Raik.
SDE MP Katri Raik. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

MP Katri Raik (SDE) has called on education minister Mailis Reps (Centre) to solve what she says are shortcomings in teaching the Estonian language in schools in Ida-Viru County, Baltic News Service reports.

In a written inquiry, Raik who is a member of the Riigikogu's cultural affairs committee and a former interior minister, pointed out that while the state budget for 2020 allocates significant support to the Ministry of Education and Research for Estonian language studies, the ministry has responded negatively to funding requests from both heads of schools in Ida-Viru County and the Viru County Estonian Education Society (Virumaa Eesti Häriduse Selts), Social Democratic Party (SDE) spokespersons said.

"I hope you share my view that of the nearly seven million euros allocated to the ministry to support Estonian language learning, €200,000 can be found, if desired, to satisfy the most pressing needs of schools in the area," Raik wrote, according to BNS.

"Do you think it would be possible to reallocate the funds earmarked for Estonian language studies and to provide €200,000 for the justified requests of Estonian schools in East-Viru County?" she continued.

Education minister Mailis Reps (Centre). Source: ERR

Raik also asked whether Reps is prepared to discuss continued state support from the state budget for other schools in Ida-Viru County, as well as the the Narva Estonian upper secondary school.

Raik also opined that the first months of work at the Kohtla-Järve state upper secondary confirm that the new school culture and poor knowledge of the Estonian language serve as the biggest challenges for children from Russian-speaking families.

"The education of Russian-speaking children and young people in Estonia also needs constant attention in light of the predominantly excellent recent PISA results. The academic success of a minority in a small country need not be worse than that of the Estonian-speaking youth," Raik added.

There are eight Estonian-language schools operating in Ida-Viru County, with Russian-speaking students making up over 25 percent in six of these.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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