Ministry launches educator hotline for advising on war-related topics

Ministry of Education and Research.
Ministry of Education and Research. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

As Ukraine continues to be attacked by Russia, teachers and principals have been faced with the question of how much and how they should talk about the war in schools. The Ministry of Education and Research has launched a hotline for providing educators with guidance regarding how to address the topic.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine has caused a new wave of anxiety in Estonian schools, said Raina Loom, head of the Ministry of Education's Legal Affairs Department. The ministry has already distributed guidance materials to schools regarding what to do in these new circumstances.

"Every school and every schoolteacher can address incidents in the context in which they have taken place; we on our part are sharing guidelines for how to do so," Loom explained. "We have launched a hotline where, if any teachers find themselves stuck, two people from the Ministry of Education can advise them."

The ministry itself has also already been involved in resolving problems that have arisen.

"The particular incidents that have reached us and that have taken place at schools are handled by us contacting the schools — and we have done so already," the department director said.

There have also been reports of teachers saying in class that in order to obtain an overview of the situation, one should listen to the views of all sides involved in the war. The Ministry of Education emphasized that when addressing the topic in schools, faculty must bear in mind that the Estonian state condemns the hostilities of the Putin regime in Ukraine.

Stella Onkel, the principal of Järve Basic School in Kohtla-Järve and a social pedagogue, considers this to be the only right approach.

"Schoolteachers should talk about what the Estonian state's position is, and we need to reflect truthful information and base things on the Estonian state's information space," Onkel said.

The guidance materials about Ukraine being distributed to educational establishments can be found on the homepage of the Education and Youth Board here (link in Estonian).


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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