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Ministry will not grant extensions for Estonian-language education switch

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

Municipalities will not be granted extensions for the transition to Estonian-language education, which is due to start next year, even though some teachers may struggle, the Ministry of Education and Research said on Friday

From the start of the 2024/2025 school year, all teachers must know the Estonian language at C1 level, including educators at kindergartens.

It is already clear that this requirement is too much for many kindergartens, Friday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

Tallinn is planning to switch to a 1+2 model, where one teacher can speak the language at the required level and two assistants with weaker language skills.

"In certain kindergartens, this model is likely to be more sustainable in the future than other models. For example, we have kindergartens where the current teachers are at B2 level. Again, given the exam statistics, it is unlikely that all of them will pass this exam at C1 level," Deputy Mayor Andrei Kante told AK.

He said this solution may be introduced at more than half of Russian-speaking kindergartens. It will mean some educators must take a demotion due to their language skills.

"They will have to meet the requirements for assistants, which is B1 at the moment, but we do not rule out that we will have to adapt, because the state still wants to introduce and harmonize these qualifications for everyone," Kante said.

Currently, there are different language requirements for teaching assistants, but the Ministry of Education plans to tighten them in the new year.

"Those involved in the pedagogical process should have a minimum language proficiency level of B2, while those responsible for the learning process, i.e. teachers, should have a C1 proficiency level," said Ingar Dubolazov, head of the transition to Estonian-language education at the Ministry of Education.

Narva, in Estonia's predominantly Russian-speaking Ida-Viru County, also wants to introduce the 1+2 system, Mayor Jaan Toots (Center) told AK on Thursday.

He said the city wants an extension for the transition as many kindergarten teachers will not be able to take the language exam by August 1.

But the ministry says an extension will not be granted to any municipality, instead more possibilities to take the exams may be created.

"Today, we are likely to allow for additional language exams on top of those already on the calendar, to allow for a little more study time for teachers and more opportunity to take language exams at level," said Dubolazov.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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