The Ida-Viru County Vocational Education Center let go three teachers who did not speak Estonian this summer. While the school would need to replace a lot more of its teaching staff, it has proved impossible to find new people, local paper Põhjarannik reports.
Hannes Mets, principal of the Ida-Viru County Vocational Education Center, told the paper that more than five years ago, he said the school would pay for teachers' Estonian training during working hours. "We sent a clear message that five years should be enough time to learn the language. That we cannot guarantee jobs in the future to those who fail to learn Estonian," he said.
Mets said that few teachers have made notable progress since then. This summer, the vocational school that is active in Jõhvi, Sillamäe and Narva and employs some 160 teachers, gave up three teachers with no Estonian.
The principal admitted that more than half of teachers do not have enough of a grasp on Estonian, while replacements would have to be found before the school could let them go.
Kaie Raidma, spokesperson for the school's employees, admitted to Põhjarannik that the shortage bordering on lack of Estonian-speaking teachers is among the chief reasons why the center only offers a few subjects in Estonian.
"We launched our hairdresser program this year and there are a few others. The rest of our programs are available in Russian only.
Hannes Mets said that finding specialist teachers with Estonian is complicated by the fact they would also have to speak Russian to work in Ida-Viru County as most students coming from Russian basic schools have a very modest or nonexistent Estonian level. "If basic school graduates cannot make sense of cardboard children's books, it would hardly be productive to teach them about cars or machine tools in Estonian."
Anneki Teelahk, head of the Unemployment Insurance Fund's Ida-Viru County branch, said that over 100 recent graduates of the school registered as unemployed in June alone. "They included people who studied information technology and multimedia that are sought-after skills on the labor market but who only speak Russian," she added.
Editor: Marcus Turovski