An Estonian Language House, a facility providing premises for everyone to learn the Estonian language for free and improve their command of Estonian through speaking it, opened in the Russian-speaking northeastern border city of Narva on Tuesday.
Representatives from the Riigikogu, the government, government ministries and state institutions, municipalities, embassies and partner organizations took part in the event opening the Narva Estonian Language House, spokespeople for the Ministry of Culture said.
Population Minister Riina Solman described the new Estonian Language House as playing an important role in the learning and preservation of the Estonian language. The minister expressed hope that the house will evolve as a convenient hub for the Estonian language and Estonianness, Estonian education and culture in the city of Narva.
"In this house where we have the pleasure of being today there are professional teachers with a sense of mission, there are students, and very good conditions for this work," Solman said according to spokespeople for the Interior Ministry.
The minister of culture, Tonis Lukas, said that the ability to speak the language is a precondition for cultural integration.
"The Narva Estonian Language House is a center for learning the Estonian language and other important activities by the Ministry of Culture. Learning takes place here not just by sitting in class, but by creating a cultural space and an environment by means of events and counseling, where Estonian language can be used. The creation of such environment is important especially in Narva, where the Estonian language cannot be heard a lot elsewhere," Minister of Culture Tonis Lukas said.
The minister pointed out that the government allocated two million euros in additional money to the Ministry of Culture for 2020 for teaching of the Estonian language to adults.
"For this amount many people will be able to learn our native language also in this house for free next year," he said.
The head of the Integration Foundation, Irene Kaosaar, said that the foundation, which has its new home in the same building, is very happy with its new home as it lies in the heart of culture and creativity in Narva, under the same roof with Performing Arts Center Vaba Lava, the Narva studio of public broadcaster ERR and Objekt business incubator.
"Our relocation has brought the state closer to the residents of Narva, we have created 20 jobs and are in the best sense a good example of the state's openness toward the person," Kaosaar said.
"The conduct of learning of the Estonian language and creating and supporting an environment for speaking the language are but a part of our activities. The Narva Estonian Language House will definitely become yet another bearer of Estonian culture in East-Viru County," Kaosaar added.
The director of the Estonian Language House, Margarita Kallo, said the opening of the Estonian Language House will significantly improve the availability of learning of the Estonian language and integration-related support in the entire region.
"In addition to Narva, we will engage in cooperation with municipalities and educational institutions in Kohtla-Jarve and Sillamae to offer also to the people there free learning of the Estonian language and advice," Kallo added.
Solman described the Integration Foundation as an important cooperation partner in promoting global Estonianness.
"The foundation's field of activity has grown to become global, as it offers advice and support to the people returning to Estonia. The portal that provides information to Estonians globally is also to be managed by the foundation. Both directions of activity will definitely be among the mainstays for the Global Estonia program that we have started to develop together," Solman said.
The new premises of the Integration Foundation and the Narva Estonian Language House are located at the address 2 Linda Street in Narva.
Editor: Helen Wright