Estonia preparing school, kindergarten places for displaced Ukrainians

Liina Kersna.
Liina Kersna. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Approximately 40 percent of displaced Ukrainians who reach Estonia will be minors and will need places in schools and kindergartens in the coming months. The Ministry of Education is trying to find solutions.

While many Ukrainians hope to return home as soon as possible, plans for a future in Estonia are also being set in motion. Several families are already starting to visit schools so children and continue their education.

Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform) said children from Ukraine will definitely enter the Estonian education system this spring.

"We are preparing in [several] different directions. First of all, information for those who come to Estonia — what they have to do to get a place in the education system. We are also setting up training for school families about non-Estonian children entering the Estonian language system, how to integrate them and how to teach them," she said.

The young Ukrainian gymnasts who arrived in Tartu last weekend for a competition and are now unable to go home are not yet thinking about school in Estonia.

"Currently we have two weeks off, but on Friday the teachers gave us some subjects online and we are not studying right now," one of the children, Jeva, said.

But, at the same time, their mothers have started to look at schools in Tartu.

Deputy Mayor of Tartu Lemmit Kaplinski (SDE) said the city currently has 100 kindergarten places and 180 school places. Parents will be able to choose if they want to put their children into an Estonian school or a school with a split Russian curriculum.

"It is a matter of concern that there is both a Ukrainian and a Russian community in Tartu and that there will be no friction between them. We are ready to intervene if tensions arise at school based on this," Kaplinski said.

At a meeting of school leaders about the new Ukrainian arrivals, teachers and staff raised issues including teaching materials, language barriers and providing psychological help if needed.

Although there were many questions Toomas Kink, director of Raatuse School, said educators have a positive attitude.

"There is nothing impossible and that is the least we can do today," said King, adding that teachers want to prepare themselves.

Additional costs will be covered by the government.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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