Applications growing for private schools' establishment, enlargement

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Members of the Lilleoru community during a tree-planting campaign. Source: MTÜ Lilleoru,/ Piret Pakler

The education ministry has received applications from several foundations wishing to establish or enlarge private schools in Estonia. Many of them follow an educational direction based on either esoteric or religious principles.

The schools are in Pärnu, Tallinn and on the island of Hiiumaa.

"All three applications are currently being processed," said ministry spokesperson Jelena Zemskova.

The Hiiumaa Hiiumaa vabakool  (Free School) would be based on Waldorf/Steiner educational lines, which aims to develop pupils' intellectual, artistic, and practical skills in an integrated and holistic manner, its proponents say.

The proposed Pärnu school likely provide a Christian-based education given its name (Pärnu kristlik erakool), while the Eastern Orthodox Shanghain and San Francisco St. John's School (Shanghai ja San-Francisco Püha Johannes kool) wants to establish an upper secondary school (Gümnaasium) to complement its basic school (Põhikool) in Tallinn.

John of Shanghai and San Francisco (1896-1966) was a prominent Eastern Orthodox ascetic and hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, who spent much of his working life in the two cities referred to in his title.

The education ministry says that the latter project may well get off the ground.

"Information has appeared in the media that the school wants to start activities at the upper-secondary school in 2022, meaning there is still time to submit the application," Zemskova said.

The schools current license runs to August next year, and cover grades seven to nine, so the ministry says it expects a future application in respect of its plans.

If it submits to supervisory procedures, the ministry says, the St. John's school's license will run indefinitely.

The ministry has simultaneously extended, or will extend subject to approval of applications, the permits of several other already-operating private schools, including the Lilleoru school, part of the wider Lilleoru center and community (pictured) in Rae municipality, near Tallinn. This school provides teaching based on the principles of Ingvar Villido, a yoga practitioner and teacher of awareness techniques.

Rae municipality is a comparatively prosperous district in Tallinn's commuter belt.

The school has had a temporary license and must apply for a new one in respect of the next academic year, Zemskova said. Again, permanent license require further supervision and other procedures before they can be issued.

A Russian-language private school in central Tallinn, Garant, has received seen basic school license renewed, while the Mikhli upper-secondary school in Rakvere has been granted an indefinite license.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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