Deputy mayor: Language transition hindered by lack of teachers, resources

Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vadim Belobrovtsev (Center).
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vadim Belobrovtsev (Center). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Politicians in Tallinn and Narva said on Friday there are not enough teachers, textbooks or resources and doubt the transition to Estonian language education can take place smoothly in 2024.

Yesterday, the government approved its action plan for the transition to Estonian-language education and sent the amendments to the law to the Riigikogu.

The Ministry of Education and Research is already preparing for the switch and has said schools need to assess what kind of support they will need throughout the process.

Ingar Dubolazov, head of general and vocational education language policy, said the plans mostly concern Tallinn and Ida-Viru County.

Higher salaries must be in place from fall 2023 to new attract teachers, kindergarten teachers and support staff.

"These things should definitely be in place by the beginning of the next academic year and reach everyone smoothly," he said.

Estonian students ready to take an exam. Photo is illustrative. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

But Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Vadim Belobrovtsev (Center) believes this unrealistic.

"I would very much like to know where is the army of teachers who are waiting for the opportunity to go to Russian-language schools to teach in Estonian," he said.

"That is one thing. Teaching materials are another thing, methodologies on how to do it are a third thing. There are more questions than answers here and I am frankly a bit skeptical that this is physically possible."

There are also doubts in Narva.

Council member Aleksei Jevgrafov (Center) doubts it will be possible to attract teachers to the city even with higher salaries.

Narva linnapea Aleksei Jevgrafov. Autor/allikas: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

"There is a shortage of teachers in Estonia. And even if teachers come to Narva from elsewhere, what will the schools do where they come from, for example, Haapsalu or Viljandi? This is a serious question," said Jevgrafov.

Larissa Degel, acting head of Narva's education department, said there is also no clarity about what teachers that must resign because they do not meet language requirements.

"What will happen to them?" she said.

The ministry said it has communicated with schools and is ready to offer advice.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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