300 Tallinn kindergarten teachers struggle to meet language requirements

A kindergarten.
A kindergarten. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Approximately a third of Russian kindergarten teachers in Tallinn do not speak Estonian at the standard required for next year's language transition.

Of the 40 employees at Vindi Kindergarten, around a quarter do not know Estonian at C1 level. While some teachers have reached B2, the level stated in the current rules, some know very little.

"There are those who ask if they can work until retirement, who will get their pension next year, or who have six months to work until retirement. And there are also those who are very motivated. Others are maybe just waking up now, even though there has been a chance to do it for 30 years," said Nonna Meltsas, head of the kindergarten.

Some teachers are currently attending intensive courses and will likely be able to reach C1 by next year, but this will prove impossible for others.

Meltsas said finding new teachers is difficult. Estonian-language kindergartens are also struggling to do so.

Deputy mayor of Tallinn Andrei Kante said he expects around a third of the 900 Russian kindergarten teachers to resign due to insufficient knowledge of the national language.

The capital will be in a difficult position next year, he said.

"We are hoping to go ahead with the model of one teacher and two teaching assistants per kindergarten class next year. For a transitional period, at least for a year, this is one possible way out," said Kante.

The Ministry of Education said this option is possible, but it may not be possible for long. Language requirements for assistant teachers may also be introduced by the ministry. 

"Their role is not as specifically defined today, hence there are no higher-level language requirements. We want to move in that direction... Today, it is very much job title based, but what matters is the job that the person is doing," said Ingar Dubolazov, the ministry's Estonian-language transition manager.

The job and its responsibilities currently vary from kindergarten to kindergarten, but Dubolazov believes language requirements should be introduced.

The majority of teachers in Russian kindergartens are elderly, but there are some who are under 35.

The ministry does not believe there will be storage of kindergarten teachers as courses are hugely popular over subscribed.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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