Minister of Education Jaak Aaviksoo tried to appease supporters of Russian curriculum at a press conference, after the Cabinet today dismissed an appeal from 15 schools in Tallinn and Narva that asked to be exempt from new language requirements.
“Russian schools have been in Estonia for centuries and they aren't going anywhere,” said Aaviksoo. “The Russian-language population's freedom to receive an education in their native language will remain.”
At the same time, Aaviksoo called attacks against the new language policies - such as the claim that reforms are unconstitutional - unfounded and misleading.
The minister also expressed confidence that all of the schools demanding for exemption are prepared to make the three-year transition to teaching 60 percent of classes in Estonian. Aaviksoo cited an additional 500,000-euro earmark as evidence that the government is supporting schools in the cause.
Meanwhile, opponents on Thursday said they would establish private schools to bypass the new requirements.