Tallinn's Ukrainian school making progress after first term

The start of the school year at Vabaduse kool (Freedom School) in Tallinn on September 1, 2022.
The start of the school year at Vabaduse kool (Freedom School) in Tallinn on September 1, 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The school semester will end this week, bringing to a close the Freedom School for Ukrainian children's first term. If at the start things were a little bumpy for both pupils and teachers, then life has become easier over the last six weeks.

At the Tallinn school, 60 percent of the curriculum is taught in Estonian and 40 percent in Ukrainian, Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported.

The school opened in September to cater to the thousands of Ukrainian children who have fled to Estonia with their parents. Currently, 575 pupils are enrolled.

Estonian language teacher Kaja Rästas said the first month took some getting used to but now teaching goes smoothly.

Some of the students' motivation to learn Estonian was slow to begin with but has improved. "No two days are alike," she said.

"I took out pencils, big pieces of paper, all kinds of materials for cutting-up, glue. And I said, you know, friends, let's make a board game out of what we've learned in the first place," she said describing how she encouraged her new students.

September 1 2022 at the Kristiine High School and the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool), both in Tallinn. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

AK asked several teenagers how they have found their classes, especially learning the Estonian language.

"My Estonian is good, it's very easy to learn. My grades are good and it's easy to learn. I would even say that it is easier to learn here than in my school in Ukraine," said student Natasha.

Vladislava, also a student, told AK she loves biology: "But I don't particularly like the biology teacher, while the grades are normal. As well as in maths, chemistry and Estonian."

This term will end on Friday and students Natasha and Sofia said they plan to work during this time, probably at a hotel where they worked in the summer.

School director Olga Selištševa said next week's break is the first time they can pause and take stock of what has gone on.

"We are learning all the time, not only the young people, not only the parents, but also our team, our teachers," she said.


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

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