Riigikogu tasks government with developing Estonian language plan

Session in progress at the Riigikogu.
Session in progress at the Riigikogu. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Riigikogu voted for the government to create a development plan for the Estonian language on Tuesday, a move which the opposition called a political game.

Akuaalne kaamera reported that the bill will see the government make plans for the development of Estonian-language education, starting with pre-primary education. It passed with 61 votes out of a possible 101.

On Sept. 10, the parliamentary majority rejected a draft prepared by the opposition Reform Party parliamentary group, which ordered the government to draw up a plan for the transitioning of Russian language schools into Estonian. 

The previous day, Sept. 9, the ruling parties had introduced their alternative project, in which the transition is mentioned only in passing. This was the bill which the Riigikogu voted for on Tuesday.

Reform Party parliamentary group member Heidy Purga said the act was a "political game." Isamaa parliamentary group chairman Priit Sibul denied this, saying both sides had different reforms.

Reform Party deputies expressed dismay that the bill which passed on Tuesday gave no hint of how the development plan would be carried out or what it would involve.

On Sept. 10, the Riigikogu rejected a bill with a 32-44 vote proposing that the government lead a transition to a single, united and fully Estonian-language education at all school levels, including kindergarten.

According to the explanatory remarks accompanying the bill, the transition would have begun at the kindergarten level as of Sept. 1, 2020.

As part of the transition process, daily Estonian language classes would have been provided in kindergartens, along with interaction with Estonian-speaking children, the presence of at least one Estonian-speaking teacher per kindergarten group, and readiness to enroll in an Estonian-language school following kindergarten.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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