AK: First ever Seto-language kindergarten due to open in fall

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The XXVI Seto Kingdom Day was held in Küllätüvä. Aug. 3, 2019. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

A Seto-language kindergarten will open in fall, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Monday night, the first ever of its kind.

The kindergarten, located in Värska, Võru County, is being set up on the initiative of parents, and the venture is now seeking a Seto-speaking teacher.

The local language, even in Setomaa itself – located in the farthest southeast corner of Estonia, with Seto communities also to be found on the other side of the border with the Russian Federation – is, while widely-spoken, not always taught to children, a task some parents feel too challenging for them, AK reported.

Local parent Meel Valk told AK (in standard Estonian) that: "At the beginning of winter, we mothers met up and came up with the idea that, while we live in such a rich cultural and linguistic environment, this hasn't been percolating through to our children."

Valk noted that since she could not speak Seto herself: "Kindergarten is a place where a child spends a lot of time, and we have good language speakers and cultural experts in Setomaa. If we brought these [language teachers] to kindergarten, our children would have the opportunity to grow up in this cultural environment."

"With this group, we would really be making history. It has never been possible to study in a Seto language educational institution before," she added.

Seto (in Estonian, Setu) has around 12,000 native speakers and is related to Estonian and even more closely to Võro language, spoken in a the region immediately to the west and north of Setomaa – the two languages are sometimes identified as dialects of the South Estonian dialect also.

The original AK segment (in Estonian), including a vox pop of Värska children's pre-existing Seto language knowledge, is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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