Isamaa urges more rapid transition to Estonian-language education

A school math workbook (photo is illustrative).
A school math workbook (photo is illustrative). Source: Pixabay

Opposition party Isamaa is urging a faster transition to all-Estonian education than that set out by education minister Liina Kersna (Reform) late last week. The proposed plan would see classes – save for foreign language lessons – conducted in Estonian at all public general education schools, by 2035.

Isamaa – which shares with Reform the central policy plank of Estonian-language education from kindergarten upwards – says that the process could be carried out much more quickly, noting in a statement that: "The decision of the minister of education and research to come up with the Estonian-language education action plan is commendable. Unfortunately, the plan is incomplete, too slow, and has not yet been negotiated in government. This is also confirmed by the public opposition by Center Party politicians to the proposed action plan."

The statement, issued Tuesday, also looked at the issue of the teaching profession and of school leadership.

The transition would, Isamaa continued. "Require a wage rise, a reform of the career model and of the system of remuneration for starting teachers."

"It must also be ensured that the quality of education in Estonian-medium schools does not decline," the statement added. 

The funding could start with the still-being-negotiated 2022 state budget, the party said, while the necessary legislation and, if required, centralization of schools under state rather than municipal control, should also go ahead and should not be further delayed.

This would remove the current situation of a two-tier (in the area of languages at least) system of education, as exists in Estonia at the moment, the party says.

However, Reform has met pushback on its plan from its coalition partner, Center, which has traditionally done well with the Russian-speaking majorities in Ida-Viru County, in Tallinn and in Muuga, to the east of the capital.

Center says that the process must be voluntary rather than coerced.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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