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Minister: 1,802 teachers have insufficient Estonian language skills

Classroom blackboard. Photo is illustrative.
Classroom blackboard. Photo is illustrative. Source: Ministry of Education and Research

There are currently 1,802 teachers with insufficient Estonian language skills, of which 1,092 are attending language courses, Minister of Education Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) said on Thursday.

"As of 15 January, the number of teachers in nursery schools and schools who do not meet the language requirements that will come into force on August 1, is 1,802, of whom 1,092 are currently on language courses. They are moving toward passing the language test," said Kallas at the government's weekly press conference, while giving an overview of the transition process to Estonian-language education which starts in September.

She said that 55 are teachers at public schools, while the rest are teachers at schools and kindergartens run by local governments.

"If we look at the number of people taking C1 and B2, the numbers have increased a lot. In 2022, 973 people in Estonia took the C1 exam, while in 2023, 1,608 people took the C1 exam. And most of them will be teachers," the minister.

Kallas said around 40 percent of teachers working in schools or kindergartens do not meet the government's language requirements.  "These are likely to be people who will no longer be able to continue working in schools and nurseries on August 1," she said.

Kristina Kallas and Kaja Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The ministry has added an extra exam to the schedule so more people can participate this year.

The minister added that another 1,000 places will be opened this year for language training. Additionally, the Ministry of Education is providing more training sessions related to the methodology of how to teach Estonian as a second language.

She also gave an overview of the changes made in the action plan for the transition to Estonian-language education. 

"I confirmed them as a minister at the end of last year. The main changes are that we have introduced compulsory proficiency tests for all the transition schools, so the 73 schools that have to switch to Estonian will have compulsory proficiency tests in the fourth and seventh grades so that we can monitor the transition process," Kallas said.

"Last autumn, this school year, the fourth and seventh grades in these transition schools did proficiency tests so that we could get benchmark data. So, next year, when those fourth graders come in and start learning in Estonian, we'll have the benchmarks from this school year's fourth graders."

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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Helen Wright

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