Estonia's smallest school has 4, largest nearly 2,000 students

Linnamäe Russian Lyceum.
Linnamäe Russian Lyceum. Source: Tallinn Lasnamäe district government

The smallest school in Estonia this year is located in Mõisaküla where just four students will study. The country's largest school is the Linnamäe Russian Lyceum in Tallinn's Lasnamäe borough that will cater to nearly 2,000 students.

Arina was among students of grades one through six of the Linnamäe Russian Lyceum, set to cater to almost 2,000 students this year, to receive their textbooks on Friday, September 1.

"I want to learn to draw like an artist. So I can draw beautifully, become an artist and showcase my pretty drawings," she told ERR.

Jõelähtme resident Anton will also be attending first grade in the school from September, alongside several of his fellows from kindergarten.

"First of all, the school has a good reputation, it offers a wide variety of hobby activities. It is very convenient for the parents. They [students] can spend a few hours at the school after their scheduled classes, at least until 2 p.m., which allows for easier workday planning. I work nearby, while our third child attends kindergarten here. Logistics is an important aspect," Anton's mother Anna said.

While Anna is still worried about her child adjusting to school life, 12th-grader Anita is already nervous about spring state exams. She studied in an Estonian basic school but switched to a Russian-speaking one for high school.

"I found learning Estonian somewhat easier as the vocabulary is not that difficult for me. Estonians tend to use compound words for new things, which makes comprehension that much easier. Russian people rather invent a new word, which you need to then learn, understand," Anita said.

Even though the Linnamäe Russian Lyceum is the largest school in the country, principal Natalia Samoilova said she still cannot accept every applicant. Even now, the school's class sets go beyond the legal limit of 24 students per class.

"The board of guardians decided we should not admit more than 28 children per first grade class. While we stretched it to 30 in some classes, we would not like to go beyond that. We do not want to admit more students to first grade, elementary school classes as every student needs an individual approach, attention from the teacher there," Samoilova said.

The school's greatest challenge for this year is to carry out a use of space analysis for how best to make use of the premises and do away with the evening shift. While the school has all the teachers it needs for this year, the situation is bound to become more difficult from next year when Russian schools' transition to teaching in Estonian is set to begin.

Two state high schools open in Narva

More than 700 students in the city of Narva started their academic years in two brand new state high schools. State schools promise Narva youths a better education and higher chances of being successful in Estonian society.

"So that every student who graduates from the Narva High School would have access to full self-realization in the Estonian society and would have no obstacles in terms of language proficiency or future educational choices. A systemic approach to career planning, support learning Estonian. No other Narva school offers such systems today," said Teivi Gabriel, principal of the Narva High School.

The other fully Estonian state high school in Narva will be temporarily housed at the former headquarters of the Kreenholm Manufactory. Its 170 students will move to the school's new building once it is finished approximately six months from now.

"Steel is hardened in adversity, as they say. But the main thing is to develop togetherness, to be able to create an Estonian speaking and feeling environment, not just study, but do everything else in Estonian," said Irene Käosaar," principal of the Narva Estonian High School.

The two new state schools said they did not have trouble finding teachers. People come to teach in Narva out of a sense of mission and when invited by brilliant colleagues.

"The team was the draw. Irene and Ruth are magnets for whom I'm willing to move to a new city. (What about the salary?) Let us say it is a facilitating factor, but since I still attend the University of Tartu, the gas money... well...," said Marie Tombu who teaches mathematics.

The state schools are taking charge of secondary education in the city, with Narva's four municipal schools continuing as basic schools.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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