Minister of Education: Closing schools should be avoided

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Liina Kersna. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

The incoming Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform) told ERR that she would avoid closing schools entirely until as late as possible when a COVID-19 infection is found.

"We should approach schools individually. I would avoid closing schools entirely until the last minute. As long as possible, the limit should be that when an infection is found in a classroom, then only this one class moves to distance learning. Then hybrid learning would be used," Kersna said.

When the virus spreads more widely, the whole school will move to temporary distance learning.

"But then it's also important to keep smaller children at schools as much as possible and offer special support to graduates. It is very important we keep the personal line in education at the moment," she added.

Regarding other aspects in the education field, Kersna highlighted issues related to Russian language schools.

"The results of the PISA tests have been lower in non-Estonian-language schools for years. From non Estonian language schools, too few talented young people make it to universities. What limits them is that they don't speak Estonian," Kersna said.

The coalition has agreed that more intensive Estonian learning will start in nurseries.

"It is a well-known fact that the earlier you start learning a language, the better a child will acquire it. Children in basic school will have to start studying some subjects in Estonian, besides Estonian language, because scientists have said this is the most effective way to learn," Kersna said.

Discussing the problem of a lack of Estonian teachers in non Estonian schools, she said this issue has already been discussed with universities.

"They are ready to train more teachers who can teach lessons to non Estonian speaking children in Estonian. Maybe teachers need more training, but also modern and attractive teaching materials are needed to make learning Estonian interesting for young people."

In addition, Kersna pointed out that in the discussions on the state budget strategy, she would point out that in 2022 there will be a salary increase for teachers.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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