Ida-Viru County teachers want Estonian language training close to home

Classroom in an Estonian school. Photo is illustrative.
Classroom in an Estonian school. Photo is illustrative. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Starting next school year, the state has promised teachers teaching in Estonian in Ida-Viru County significant additional pay. Ida-Viru educators want local Estonian language training for teachers as well as Estonian-language extracurriculars.

According to Ministry of Education and Research figures, more than 2,200 teachers in Estonia don't meet Estonian language proficiency requirements. Of these, 1,500 work in Ida-Viru County. In order to find new teachers, the state is financing 342 new spots in university degree programs, and teachers teaching in Estonian in Ida-Viru County have been promised a one and a half times higher minimum wage rate beginning next September already.

"A teacher teaching full time in Ida-Viru County who also does other stuff on the side may not earn much less than €3,000 [a month]," said Minister of Education and Research Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa). "If that's the case, so be it — come teach, or come to Ida-Viru County."

The Northeastern Estonian county is facing a bigger shortage of chemistry and physics teachers. Teachers also want language training in their home county, but no such opportunities exist right now.

"We can provide the space, we can help conduct labs, but Tallinn University (TLÜ) and the University of Tartu (TÜ) should come to Ida-Viru County to teach teachers," said Mare Roosileht, director of Tallinn University of Technology's (TalTech) Virumaa College, which is located in Kohtla-Järve. "We can't expect all of these teachers to come to Ida-Viru County; we need to raise successors here, in Ida-Viru County."

The transition to Estonian-language education shouldn't be limited to just schools either; specialists have highlighted that Ida-Viru children need an Estonian-language environment beyond the end of the school day as well.

"For the transition of a Russian school, children can only learn Estonian in class, and the entirety of their free time is Russian-speaking, so it would be logical for extracurriculars to be in Estonian, so that they can use the language they're learning in school outside of the classroom as well," said Nelli Kuldmaa, an education and youth work specialist in Alutaguse.

The minister of education has promised to transition extracurriculars connected to schools into Estonian as well. Hobby schools, however, will remain the responsibility of their respective local governments.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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