Jõhvi State Upper Secondary School to switch to Estonian only starting 2020

The state upper secondary school in Jõhvi will switch to Estonian-only instruction starting 2020.
The state upper secondary school in Jõhvi will switch to Estonian-only instruction starting 2020. Source: ERR

Tatjana Ait, principal of the Jõhvi State Upper Secondary School in Ida-Viru County, has announced that all students entering the school starting 2020 will start their studies in Estonian only, local paper Põhjarannik reports.

Ait introduced this plan to the school's board of trustees at a meeting in April. "Our aim is that, starting from the school year beginning in fall 2020, all studies will be in Estonian. The 11th and 12th grades will finish school having studied 80 percent of subjects in Estonian and 20 percent in Russian, the new students will begin their studies fully in Estonian," she said.

Ait addedthat the plan had been discussed with teachers as well as students already since fall last year. At present, approximately two thirds of the students still study some subjects, including maths and history, in Russian.

According to the principal, students are apprehensive about studying maths in Estonian the most. "But we have people who can help and support them. We don't plan to abandon the maths teachers currently teaching in Russian. And after secondary school, the kids will have to go to university and manage in Estonian anyway," Ait said.

She also believes that if a specific deadline is set for the switch, this alone will give an encouraging signal to the Russian-language basic schools in Jõhvi as well as others in the area. "They will have to start working slightly differently, and start teaching students better to make it possible for them to study in Estonian once in secondary school," Ait said.

The debate surrounding standard language of instruction has been going on for some time, with e.g. the Reform Party calling for Estonian-language instruction starting already in kindergarten.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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