Jevgeni Ossinovski, chair of the Social Democratic Party (SDE), has proposed a compromise solution to a dispute over the language of instruction at the Järve Upper Secondary school in Kohtla-Järve, namely that the school would be become a state school teaching students from grades 1 to 12, ie. the full education cycle.
Minister of Education Mailis Reps (Centre) had said that the school which take students from grades 10 to 12, would not be ready to teach in Estonian-only in time for the next academic year on 1 September, though students entering the school at grade 10 would start in Estonian-only. Otherwise, students would be taught on the basis of a 60/40 split in Estonian to Russian teaching.
The school is in an area with a large Russian-speaking population; a previous director recently resigned on the language issue, and the local Estonian-speaking populace have said that their needs have not been heard on the matter.
''One option might be to expand the Järve school to incorporate all grades, from 1 to 12, and transfer its control from the local authority to the state'' Mr Ossinovski told ERR on Monday.
''This would ensure that, as a full-cycle school, its language of instruction would be 100% Estonian,'' Mr Ossinovski continued.
This would be an exceptional move, however, since it would run counter to the general policy of separating primary from secondary education, he said, but it would at least put an end to the politicisation of language in education.
Mr Ossinovski added that the coalition opted to set up a working party to find a solution, with interior minister Katri Raik (SDE), Isamaa chair Helir-Valdor Seeder, and education minister Mailis Reps (Centre) on board. A solution would be feasbile in a few months, Mr Ossinovski said. Of course, the 3 March general election needs to be taken into account as well.
Isamaa chair Helir-Valdor Seeder. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR
Mr Seeder for his part stated that Isamaa would stick to its line that all state upper secondary schools should conduct their education in Estonian, and that it was regrettable that Centre had not dialogued with its coalition partners on the issue and on its decision to make the Järve school bilingual.
Mr Seeder suggested that the move was done as a sweetener for Russian-speaking voters in Ida Viru County, though that the issue is too close to the elections to constitute any kind of governmental split.
Editor: Andrew Whyte