Education minister: Government likely to make exception for Russian-language schools ({{commentsTotal}})

Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center).
Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center). Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Should such requests be made, the Estonian government will likely satisfy the requests of some Russian-language schools in Tallinn to be allowed to make an exception regarding the use of Estonian as a language of instruction, Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center) told BNS on Monday evening.

"We have agreed in principle that the government will this time satisfy [such a request], but of course we in the Ministry of Education who must to forward these requests [to the government] want to see and agree on what actions will bbe taken to strengthen the level of language studies," Reps told BNS.

Tallinn deputy mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said last week that in the near future, three Russian-language schools are to make requests to be allowed to make an exceptin regarding using Estonian as a language of instruction, and based on earlier agreements of the present coalition it can be expected that the government will satisfy these requests. According to Kõlvart, he is convinced this based on a letter of intent signed on the level of the coalition agreement of the Center Party, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL).

Kõlvart told Russian-language channel PBK last Wednesday that Tallinn Linnamäe Russian Lyceum and Kesklinn Russian High School have already made the decision to make such a request, and one other school is expected to make a decision regarding the request soon.

The two aforementioned schools have previously made similar requests, however previous governments did not satisfy them, Kõlvart added.

According to the deputy mayor, the schools to make a request to be allowed to make an exception regarding the language of instruction will begin strengthening their Estonian studies so that their students would be able to pass an Estonian proficiency exam on the C1 level. Currently, students are required to be proficient in Estonian at the B2 level by the end of high school. Restructuring as well as additional funds will be needed for more intense Estonian studies and the current coalition has promised to provide that, Kõlvart added.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said in December that according to the current Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, exceptions in language studies may be granted. "But the exception is not that Russian becomes the only language of instruction; the exception is that the school's administration can organize language studies more flexibly," Ratas noted, adding that the new coalition had agreed on there being a need to increase the level of Estonian studies.

According to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act, the language of instruction in Estonia's upper secondary schools is Estonian, which means that at least 60 percent of all studies must take place in Estonian. At the same time, the government may make exceptions regarding this rule.

As of Monday evening, no aforementioned requests had been received by Tallinn City Council, spokespeople told BNS.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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