One in three refugee children from Ukraine attending school in Estonia

School classroom.
School classroom. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Since Russia's full-scale war in Ukraine began on February 24, a total of 3,729 refugee children, or approximately one in three refugees under the age of 19 to arrive in Estonia, have begun attending kindergarten or school.

Over the past week, some 500 children have been enrolled at educational institutions in Estonia. In all, 894 refugee children have been enrolled in kindergarten, 2,539 children in basic schools, 162 in high schools and 132 in vocational schools.

According to Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform), it is crucial that the children from Ukraine be enrolled in school and start learning the Estonian language as quickly as possible.

"We know that 11,887 war refugees from Ukraine up to 19 years old have arrived in Estonia, but as of right now, 3,729 of them are enrolled at educational institutions," Kersna said. "The state can only pay additional support to local governments for those children who are entered in the database."

As of the final week of April, children and youth from Ukraine are currently living in each of Estonia's 15 counties.

According to Estonian Education Information System (EHIS) data, the majority of kindergarteners and schoolchildren from Ukraine are registered in Harju County (1,782), Tartu County (372), Pärnu County (293), Ida-Viru County (241), Lääne-Viru County (240) and Järva County (144).

Of these refugee children, 70 percent are enrolled in Estonian-language, 20 percent in Russian-language, 10 percent in language immersion and just 1 percent in English-language educational institutions.

Many schools have hired employees from Ukraine as well.

According to the results of a ministry survey, a total of 101 refugees from Ukraine are currently working in 76 schools in Estonia. The majority of them are working as teachers or assistant teachers, but yet others have also been hired as school psychologists, speech therapists, support persons, study coordinators as well as cooks and janitors.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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