Meant for war refugee children from Ukraine, Tallinn's Vabaduse School needs a total of 60 teachers to open its doors as a fully operational school this September. Currently it's short just 14.
A total of 3,500 refugee children in Estonia should be starting school at the basic or high school level this fall. Located on Endla tänav, Vabaduse School has a maximum capacity of 800 students, and to date had received applications from 603 children.
In an appearance on Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" on Thursday, Olga Selištševa, director of studies at Vabaduse School, said that the school will be opened for 600 in September as it is still short on teachers, adding that it has been hardest to find teachers for the sciences.
The school wants to start operating with a total of 60 teachers, but currently has just 46 signed on to start this September. The school also recruited ethnic Ukrainian teachers who had taught at local schools and want to continue teaching.
"They want to contribute and help," Selištševa highlighted.
Vabaduse School is cooperating with Tallinn Education Department to ensure that students who don't fit in the Endla tänav school still find a place in another school.
The school is also offering families personal guidance counseling to help find opportunities for their children. These counseling sessions are often emotional, Selištševa said, as many families from Ukraine don't want to tie themselves any more permanently to Estonia and are hoping to return home soon.
Studies at the new school will follow Estonia's national curriculum, and at least 60 percent in the Estonian language. The school intends to work on students' Estonian language skills in creative subjects, including technology, art and physical education.
Estonian will nonetheless initially remain the school's secondary language of instruction, but more and more Estonian-language subjects will be introduced as pupils' language proficiency improves.
Vabaduse School is committed to a tailored approach to children, for which it has also hired assistant teachers as well as a support team. The director of studies said that the degree of personalization depends on the number of students, which is why class size at the school will be capped at 22.
Asked how long a Ukrainian school might be necessary in Estonia, Selištševa said that expectations vary, as many families want to go home, but others are also considering remaining in Estonia so that their children can continue their education here.
"There is a huge need for this school," she said. "Our goal is to meet these needs."
Editor: Aili Vahtla