Education ministry plans to end Tallinn Russian schools' pilot project

Tallinna Lasnamäe gümnaasium.
Tallinna Lasnamäe gümnaasium. Source: ERR

Money allocated for Estonian language learning under a pilot project was used for other activities by Russian schools, the Ministry of Education has said. It now plans to stop the €5 million scheme.

The six-year project "Eesti keel selgeks" was started in 2017 and focused on three year groups at Tallinn, Tallinna Linnamäe Vene Lütseum, Tallinna Kesklinna Vene Gümnaasium and Lasnamäe Gümnaasium.

Each establishment was given €250,000 per year with the aim that students reach C1 level.

The ministry believes the expected outcomes have not been achieved and wants to terminate the scheme, which was due to end next year.

Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform) blames Tallinn City Council for its failure.

"We realized that, actually, it is no longer possible to save this project because the City of Tallinn has not been willing to make changes or show specific activities and results for this money," she said.

Schools have been submitting incomplete reports and action plans since 2018, said Ingar Dubolazov, head of the general and vocational education language policy field of the Ministry of Education.

Expense reports show the money was not used for its intended purpose, such as on classes not participating in the pilot project.

The ministry's comments came as a surprise to Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Vadim Belobrovtsev (Center). He suggested they may be political.

"It seems as if a decision has been made, and then they started looking for reasons and justifications about this decision," he said.

Belobrovtsev said the ministry has not discussed the project or its bottlenecks with the council.

"I do not remember that the ministry told us in any very specific way that it was used incorrectly. I don't remember that we were given any kind of guidelines," he said.

Kersna said one of the biggest issues was the lack of project manager and schools needed to manage themselves. Belobrovtsev said the Board of Education assisted the schools.

Discussions will now take place between the City of Tallinn, the Ministry of Education and the participating schools. The National Audit Office is also looking into the project.

The project has cost €3.7 million so far and the remaining €1.5 million will be allocated for Estonian learning in the future, Kersna said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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