Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise is of the opinion that the Estonian government has the right to pay support for the transition to Estonian-language education only to the area where they deem it is most needed. Other local governments, such as Paldiski, can seek additional funding from the municipal government — or, in court, from the state.
Paldiski High School contacted the chancellor of justice because it considers it unfair that the state hasn't provided them with the same type of support as being provided to schools in Ida-Viru County, where many of the students are native Russian speakers.
The justice chancellor understands the school's concern, however, from a legal perspective, it nonetheless cannot be said that the state cannot pay subsidies to a certain region's local governments from its budget if the state believes this region is in greatest need of state support.
"According to data collected by the Language Board, as of fall 2021, identified among the educational staff of Estonia's preschool institutions, general education as well as vocational schools were 2,300 people in need of additional Estonian language instruction, and the majority thereof — 1,524 employees — work in Ida-Viru County," Madise highlighted in her response.
"Harju County's educational institutions are likewise having difficulties complying with requirements, however, Lääne-Harju Municipality's difficulties nonetheless aren't even the greatest among these," she added.
The justice chancellor added that schools in other parts of Estonia of course cannot be left without help and support either.
According to the law, she pointed out, school expenses must be borne by a school's manager, i.e. the municipality or city, from the latter's own budget, although the state likewise pays support to the municipality or city in accordance with the law as well.
"Thus, if the management of Paldiski High School is of the opinion that the school requires financial support, the school should turn to Lääne-Harju Municipality," Madise said. "If the municipality or city finds that it doesn't have enough money to comply with legal requirements, it has the right to seek money from the state in court."
Editor: Aili Vahtla