Regulation would see refugees pay for discontinued language studies

Refugees from Ukraine aboard Tallink's MS Isabelle, which is docked in Tallinn's Old City Harbor. April 2022.
Refugees from Ukraine aboard Tallink's MS Isabelle, which is docked in Tallinn's Old City Harbor. April 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Ministry of Culture is awaiting feedback from other ministries and agencies for a draft regulation that would obligate people granted international protection to compensate the government for the cost of language studies if they fail to finish the course.

The regulation is coming from the Culture Ministry since refugee adjustment policy moved to its administrative area from May 1, 2021.

The draft regulation provides that legislation governing granting foreigners international protection obligates the latter to observe Estonia's constitutional order and laws, respect constitutional values and principles, state based on freedom, justice and law, the organization of the Estonian society, Estonian language and culture. Adults who qualify for international protection are obligated to participate in an adjustment program and learn Estonian.

International protection recipients are obligated to complete Estonia's free adjustment program training and A1 language course.

As of March 24, Estonia had granted temporary protection to over 23,000 adults who will need to learn A1-level Estonian.

By April 17, 10,000 people had been designated for the A1 Estonian course of whom 2,546 had completed it, 5,229 has started and 467 were waiting in line for a total of 8,242 reactions or 82 percent of those for whom the course is mandatory.

Of the 2,546 people to complete the course 2,341 have done so successfully. "It is important to point out that study motivation tends to be lower in the case of forced displacement when compared to ordinary migration, whereas people in this particular target group can get most things done using Russian, which further lowers motivation," the draft regulation reads.

Another problem is that demand outstrips supply when it comes to language training. Estonia has commissioned around 15,000 language training places this year, which is all the market has to offer."

The regulation reads that if an international protection recipient fails to perform the obligations created upon registering the service providers will require them to cover the program cost.

The latter is calculated based on the cost of a single lesson as provided in the tender and the number of lessons before the person quit.

The training provider can exempt international protection recipients from paying for the training if they find that they had a good reason for failing to participate and complete the course.

Those affected have six months in which to pay back the training cost from the moment the relevant decision is made.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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