The place fee exemption for children with special educational needs (SEN) in Tallinn municipal kindergarten will take effect this autumn, but there are currently not places for those who need them.
Kati Niine, chief communication specialist of the Tallinn Education Board, told ERR while more kindergarten places have been created over the years there are still not enough for SEN children.
She said currently, 111 children are waiting for a place.
Tallinn's deputy mayor Vadim Belobrovtsev told ERR there are currently 723 children with SEN attending municipal institutions and their parents will not need to pay fees from this autumn.
"I don't think a large number of children who are not in kindergarten are coming there [to the municipal institution] and that number should grow drastically. However, if there is a moderate increase, we are definitely ready for it," he explained.
According to Niine, the problem is elsewhere. "In reality, the biggest concern about the adequacy of matching and special groups is the availability of specialists with the skills needed to teach children with special educational needs," she explained.
Belobrovtsev said he agrees: "Yes, this problem exists, of course, and we have informed the Ministry of Education and Research about the need to increase the number of university students [in the coming years]. However, we understand that in order to have more specialists, it is necessary to motivate them. This is a big issue for the state."
He said the city currently reimburses parents of SEN children who attend private kindergartens every month with €71.25, which is equal support for everyone.
The place fees for private kindergartens in Tallinn range from €500 to €600 per month and creates inequality - there are children who have a free place in a city kindergarten and those whose parents have to pay a higher price in a private kindergarten due to lack of space in a municipal kindergarten.
Editor: Helen Wright