An adaption program for Ukrainians will likely be introduced next year by Tallinn's Education Department to help teachers better integrate newly arrived children into the school system.
There are currently almost 3,000 Ukrainian refugee children studying in Tallinn's schools, Friday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported. Of these, 2,050 children are in municipal schools and slightly more than 800 in kindergartens.
Kaarel Rundu, head of Tallinn's Education Department, said the city could accommodate another 460 pupils, but after that, the city will have reached its limits.
Teachers have increased their workloads to help children integrate quickly but this is creating additional stress.
"Firstly, because there are no pedagogues, teachers are overworked," Rundu told AK.
The majority of children have been placed in regular classes, but some schools have also started new classes especially for Ukrainian students.
Lasnamäe High School has opened three but is struggling with staffing.
"Separate Ukrainian classes are a huge challenge for the school as the priority is socialization," the school's director Andrei Kante told AK.
"The most critical resource today is not space [classrooms], but teachers. There are no teachers, so we are in a critical situation. School places in our area, in Lasnamäe, are essentially no longer available."
Sixth and 8th grade teachers are under the most pressure as the ciriculums differ the most between Estonian and Ukrainian schools in these year groups.
Maive Merkulova, director of Tallinn's German High School, said: "The older the class is, the harder it is for the teacher. This means that the teacher also has to work harder to prepare materials, translating them if necessary. Certainly, teachers' workloads are a little bigger."
Next year, Tallinn's Education Department will introduce new methods to help reduce teachers' workloads.
"From the new year, we need to start thinking about whether we can offer an adaptation program for children. We have signaled to both the ministry and the state that war refugees could be relocated from Tallinn to other municipalities," Rundu, from the Education Department, said.
"Perhaps opening adaptation programs from the new year will give us the opportunity to integrate more Ukrainian teachers," he added.
It was decided earlier this year that Ukrainian children should be put into Estonian-language schools as soon as possible to promote integration and encourage language learning. Two new schools were also opened for children in Tallinn.
It is assumed more refugees will arrive in Estonia in the coming months as the war continues and winter sets in, especially as Russia has destroyed vital infrastructure in major cities.
Estonia has been struggling with a shortage of teachers for several years, which. is now exacerbated by an increasing number of new pupils.
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera