Ukrainian refugees start at 14 schools in Tallinn, state mulls new school

Children in a classroom. Picture is illustrative.
Children in a classroom. Picture is illustrative. Source: ERR

Fourteen schools in Tallinn have started to teach Ukrainian refugee children. So far, 3,000 children have arrived and the Ministry of Education is mulling opening a partial-Ukrainian language school.

ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" spoke to 12-year-old Liana who started attending Tallinna Südalinna kool on Monday.

"I like the Estonian language. I really like that everyone here is very friendly, everyone wants to make friends. The school is very nice, I really like it," she told AK.

The aim is to immerse the new students in the education system but to start them off with creative activities which are easier to understand.

"I listen and try to imagine what is being said. I do it with the help of pictures and videos," Liana said.

Tallinna Südalinna kool teacher Lea Küti spoke to AK about her experience teaching a boy called Jaroslav. "In my eyes, he was such a calm, dignified young man," she said.

Jaroslav started studying in Estonian straight away with Estonian children but to make things easier he is sitting next to a student who also speaks Russian.

"I tried so firstly he could listen to the Estonian language and then adapt a little to the surroundings and then to our children. We sat in a big circle so that we were could see eye and eye and everyone said something very positive," she said.

Tallinn is still mapping study places and working out how to create more. Minister of Education Liina Kersna (Reform) said the state is also ready to open a new Ukrainian-Estonian immersion school if necessary.

"One such option is the soon-to-be-empty Tallinna Muusikakeskkool (Tallinn Music High School) in Nõmme, but it will only be opened if other schools are no longer able to receive refugees," she said.

"If we make a separate school for children of Ukrainian war refugees, it will be an Estonian-language school where at least 60 percent [of classes taught in] Estonian and 40 percent Ukrainian through Ukrainian distance learning platforms and Ukrainian educators," the minister said.

While discussions about a new temporary school have been floated by Tallinn, support from the ministry came as a surprise to the council on Monday.

"The news that the ministry will consider the possibility of a state school for Ukrainian children coming to Tallinn is also news to us. So now we need to understand if this is a real plan, if things can move forward," said Vadim Belobrovtsev (Center), deputy mayor of Tallinn, adding the council is willing to change its plans if the ministry gives the school the green light.

Schools in the capital will present an overview of how they can manage the reception of refugees on Wednesday.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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