Kohtla-Järve secondary school to get Estonian-language 10th grade this year

Taking over the Kohtla-Järve state upper secondary school ad interim: Ülle Matsin.
Taking over the Kohtla-Järve state upper secondary school ad interim: Ülle Matsin. Source: Sakala/Eesti Meedia/Scanpix

All-Estonian instruction will begin for those students of Kohtla-Järve's state upper secondary school entering 10th grade this year. For those already studying in 10th grade and moving on to 11th, instruction will continue according to the current curriculum. The matter of the school's language of instruction became an issue last week over disagreements with the local Estonian community, and director Irina Putkonen resigning.

Students entering the school's 10th grade this year will already study in Estonian, local paper Põhjarannik wrote. The same won't apply for those students moving on from 10th to 11th as well as 11th to 12th grade: they will continue receiving instruction in Russian as per the expiring curriculum.

This transition solution was confirmed to the paper by Raivo Trummal, in charge of the school network at the Ministry of Education and Research.

Representatives of the ministry held a series of meetings in the northeastern city on Monday this week to try and find a solution to the current situation. The local Estonian community is pushing for Estonian-language instruction, while the school is currently also without a director since Irina Putkonen submitted her resignation last week.

The state upper secondary school in the town is eventually going to be based on Estonian-language instruction, but it wouldn't be realistic to get this done right away, Mr Trummal said. The only exception for the next 10th grade will be Russian language and literature as a separate subject. Students whose Estonian isn't up to par will receive extra support, he added.

"I couldn't say that this is what the Estonian community alone wants. In the meeting with the town council as well as with directors of Russian schools, it became clear that there is broader interest in Estonian-language education, and for a quality upper secondary school," Mr Trummal said.

Studying in Estonian can be a challenge for local youngsters, he admitted. Those coming in from Russian-only basic schools will need to make the voluntary choice to cram Estonian as well. All those who would rather attend upper secondary school in Russian still have the option to do so, albeit in neighbouring Jõhvi.

Meanwhile the ministry has offered the job of director to Ülle Matsin, who has run the state upper secondary school of Viljandi. Ms Matsin will take over for the duration of the ministry's efforts to find a replacement for Ms Putkonen.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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