Education and Research Minister Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) said at a press conference on Wednesday that the government intends to support rural schools with 20 to 90 students through local governments as part of a reform of the school network.
Kallas explained that rural schools teaching grades 1 through 6 with 20 to 90 students are eligible for the support measure.
The minister said, there are 20 such schools in Estonia.
The minister explained that in order to receive the subsidy, the local government must submit an application to the PPA. The support is meant to increase teacher salaries and cover expenses such as school bus transportation.
New schools and more support to be paid in Ida-Viru County
The press conference focused specifically on the current circumstances of education in Ida-Viru County. Depending on their level of education, teachers and support workers who teach in Estonian will receive a salary supplement of either €525 or €874.
Irene Käosaar, head of Narva Eesti High School, said that two new state-run upper secondary high schools with a total enrollment of 750 pupils will open in Narva. In addition, three new state-run upper secondary high schools will open in Tallinn this academic year as well. A lot of attention will be paid to the transition to Estonian-language instruction, which will begin the next academic year.
The number of Estonian language classes in Russian-language schools has also increased, Kallas said. From two to four hours per week in the first school year to four to five hours per week in the second school year.
Among other things, 73 transition schools will implement grade 4 competence assessments in mathematics, science, Estonian as a second language, and Russian as a mother tongue.
"We will monitor the academic performance of these students based on their annual proficiency tests, so that the transition to Estonian-language education will not have a negative impact on their academic performance," the minister said.
More students studying to become teachers
There are 390 more students in teacher training at the University of Tartu and Tallinn University than in previous years. In addition, according to Kallas, the students will receive a €400 scholarship.
Universities will also receive a €448,000 support measure to help students to improve Estonian language proficiency when needed.
It was also stated at the press conference that national defense will become a mandatory subject in all Estonian high schools and that students will have more alternatives for B foreign languages.
Editor: Grete-Liina Roosve, Kristina Kersa