Minister of Education and Research Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) visited Narva as he believes the city to be a key location for the switch to universal Estonian education. While the transition should kick off in just two years' time, only a fifth of Narva teachers are capable of teaching subjects in Estonian. The ministry promises additional funding and to boost the responsibility of principals.
Estonia is increasing its presence in Narva education. Two more high schools will soon be added to the existing state school there. While the latter have managed to find [qualified] teachers, the situation is very different in municipal schools.
"Broadly speaking, I could say that 20 percent of an average Narva school's teachers meet requirements, 20 percent are quite hopeless and the remaining 60 percent could do with additional language training," Narva Mayor Katri Raik said.
Teachers with a modest command of Estonian will need to obtain a high level of language proficiency inside two years or find another job. While the city would give teachers one last chance, the ministry is betting on finding new teachers who are promised regional bonuses and pay rise. The actions of principals will be taken under scrutiny.
"Attitudes matter. I propose introducing legislation that would allow the government to check the qualification of municipal school principals, suggest they are replaced or release them from office and hire replacements if they fail to pass these checks in terms of attitude or level of preparation," the education minister said.
The experience of the Estonian Language House has proved that it is possible to find teachers in Narva from other parts of Estonia.
"Let us not underestimate the preparedness of people to move from one place to another if we offer them a good working environment and progressive, clearly oriented organization. The role of principals in this process is great," Katri Raik said.
Narva kindergartens require 70 new teachers in the near future. The city government is in the middle of determining that figure for schools.
Editor: Marcus Turovski