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Minister: Schools must continue operating during teachers' strike

Kristina Kallas.
Kristina Kallas. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The teachers' strike does not mean children will get a break from school and studying, Minister of Education Kristina Kallas said.

"The school day will take place. Children will go to school just as they would. School is not canceled, so best not to buy plane tickets and plan trips," Kallas said on Vikerraadio.

The minister said that children are obligated to attend and have the right to 175 days of school a year. "It is up to principals and school operators to organize school days," she added.

Teachers not on strike will continue teaching, while it is the task of schools to organize classes – to find substitute teachers, find other activities or organize the classes at a later time. But the school day will go ahead, children need to be offered lunches and will come to school first thing in the morning," the education minister remarked.

General education teachers are set to go on strike all over Estonia starting from January 22. The Estonian Education Personnel Union (EHL) is demanding a bigger salary advance for teachers than what the government has offered.

Kallas also said that school requires students to be instructed, meaning that simply giving the children a number of mathematics problems to solve and leaving them unattended is not acceptable. "The strike must not be allowed to violate the rights of children. It is up to the school operator, which largely means local governments, to organize the kids' school day."

The minister said that while there is still a chance the strike will not go ahead, she cannot imagine the government finding the €46 million needed to facilitate teachers' pay demands. Kallas is set to meet with union representatives Thursday.

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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski

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