Tallinn allocates almost €9 million for Estonian-language education transition

September 1 2022 at the Kristiine High School and the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool), both in Tallinn.
September 1 2022 at the Kristiine High School and the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool), both in Tallinn. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Tallinn City Government plans to allocate more than €8.8 million to support the transition to Estonian-language education in its 2024 budget. Additionally, 450 new teachers are needed.

The measures include teacher training, recruitment of new teachers, methodological and motivational support for teachers, assistance for children transitioning to Estonian-language education, support and counseling for both parents and teachers, and the creation of an online learning environment.

 Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) the process is multifaceted and the lack of qualified teachers does not only concern Russian schools.

"This is a systemic, long-standing problem that will affect education for years to come. The transition will certainly exacerbate this need. There are two factors: there are no or few teachers, and secondly, the existing teachers do not match the existing qualifications," said the mayor.

Kõvart said the city needs an additional 400-500 teachers, but above all, it wants to support as many teachers as possible who already work in education institutions but do not meet the C1 requirements needed from 2024.

As well as additional training courses, a big recruitment campaign is also planned.

Mihhail Kõlvart. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Kõlvart said the state is lacking an action plan for SEN children who will need to learn Estonian and a proper solution is needed. "At least we are acknowledging the problem," he said.

To motivate teachers, the city plans to increase the class teacher fee to €200 in all municipal schools, as they primarily handle student issues and parent counseling. This measure will cost the city budget approximately €2.5 million.

The mayor said many parents who speak Russian at home are already trying to find places for their children in Estonian-language schools, as they worry schools undergoing the transition will not meet the necessary standards.

"Already now, but also in the past, there were always more people than places. We have also selected the schools with the highest demand, where we are trying to expand, upgrade, and develop the learning environment," he said.

"We have a clear understanding that this is a very complex process. We see a lot of problems and we continue to believe that this resource is not sufficient," said Kõlvart.

September 1 2022 at the Kristiine High School and the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool), both in Tallinn. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Deputy Mayor Andrei Kante said there is currently a shortage of 211 teachers in Tallinn's educational institutions. Approximately 450 teachers have not passed the B2 exam and will be unable to work in schools from September 1.

Additionally, 746 of the school and kindergarten teachers are already at retirement age.

The city plans to spend €1.3 million on teacher training in the coming year, including language immersion for teachers. They will also have access to language courses and apps to improve their language level.

The capital approved its language transition plan last month.

On Tuesday, Tallinn City Government approved the draft of the next year's city budget, which totaled €1.25 billion.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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