Ministry to organize plan for transition to Estonian-language education

Empty classroom. (photo is illustrative)
Empty classroom. (photo is illustrative) Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

The Ministry of Education and Research has gathered a working group consisting of practitioners which will form a plan for transition to a Estonian-language education system. The working group will convene on Friday for the first time.

Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform) says that the aim of the transition plan is to support non-Estonian speaking students in studying Estonian.

The working group is led by the ministry's deputy-chancellor Kristi Vinter-Nemvalts, plus several teachers from schools and nurseries.

Kersna promised that by November, the working group will form a detailed activity plan with dates for moving forward with the lack of teachers and raising the level of trainings.

The minister said that there's an aim in the development plan which states that the education system will completely transfer to Estonian as the study language by the year 2035, but it's a bonus when it can be done earlier.

The proportion of non-Estonian speaking students increases by 800-1,000 students per year. Ensuring their coping in an Estonian-language school, the ministry will be funding two additional lessons a week in subjects the school considers necessary.

For example, at the Kohtla-Järve Estonian language school, there are more non-Estonian students studying than native speakers.

Kersna brought out that parents are wanting mixed groups in nurseries and schools more and more. At the Jõhvi school, two classes are opened, with one of them dealing with early immersion and the other one involving an additional Estonian language teacher. The ministry is funding both programs; funding will also be applied for from EU coffers.

7,400 students are studying in the immersion classes at schools and 3,500 at nurseries.

In Kersna's opinion, the fact that there is a small number of Russian students going to Estonian universities is a problem.

"It mainly derives from a lack of national language skills," Kersna said.

She added that when children can already speak the state language, it is important to tighten contacts between the two language communities.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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