Minister: Plan makes concrete steps towards Estonian-only education by 2035
The education ministry has completed an action plan to transition schools to Estonian-language curricula nationwide, by 2035.
The plan refers to general education state schools, some of which conduct classes in other languages, predominantly Russian.
The initiative is not the first time goals have been set along these lines but, education minister Liina Kersna (Reform) told Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" on Friday that these had lacked a systematic approach.
Kersna said that: "This is what this action plan is trying to change, that there are concrete steps we should take to achieve these goals."
The action plan requires three-quarters of studies to be in Estonian, rather than 100 percent, to reflect the fact that around a quarter of classes are devoted to foreign languages, which naturally should be taught using the target language.
"Today, 25 percent of the study volume of a general education school is foreign language learning. So we are saying that subject teaching should be predominantly in Estonian and the rest would be made up of foreign language learning," Kersna added.
Kersna noted that the plan – all-Estonian education has long been a Reform Party policy – still needs the assent of her party's coalition partner, Center, which has traditionally supported some Russian-language learning in schools, in Russian-speaking majority areas.
Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) – effectively regional minister - said that his party did not support a forced transition, though did want improvement in the quality of Estonian-language education.
Aab told BNS that: "We have not only talked about it, we have also worked towards it. For example, several hundred Estonian language teachers already work in kindergartens. However, as far as a forced transition is concerned, we do not support that."
The action plan itself states that: "The third strategic goal of the Estonian language development plan 2021-2035 aims for the country to have switched to Estonian-language education by 2035, meaning that teaching in schools and kindergartens funded by the state and local governments is conducted in Estonian," BNS reports.
Kersna said that the plan provides for transition periods, where the proportion of Estonian-language education in Russian schools be increased in increments, first to 40 percent, then to 60 percent and then to 75 percent, between its inception and 2035.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte