Tallinn mayor confirms free kindergarten meals next year

Kindergarten meals in Tallinn are to be free next year (picture is illustrative).
Kindergarten meals in Tallinn are to be free next year (picture is illustrative). Source: PM/SCANPIX BALTICS

Tallinn kindergartens will start offering free meals from 2020, covered by the city government's budget.

The city government had already announced the move in its draft budget, in October, noting that this would include meals at private kindergartens.

Speaking on Coffee+, ETV's Russian-language magazine show, on Monday morning, Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart confirmed the move.

"It used to be the case that there was a choice between free meals and a free place," Kõlvart said, going on to say that the situation with free kindergarten places overall was a little more complicated.

Opposition Reform Party has tabled a bill to make kindergarten education free for all from Sept. 1 2020, saying that this would cost about €6 million.

However, Kõlvart said that this figure was an underestimation.

"Although the opposition claims that free places in kindergartens would cost the city only €6 million, in fact, the free food that we introduced two years ago alone costs so much. The correct figure is €16-17 million," he said.

Reform had put the figure at €6 million for the latter part of 2020 (i.e. from Sept. 1), however, not a full year.

Kõlvart also noted that there was an option for children from low-income families to get kindergarten places free already, adding that in other parts of the country, for instance Tartu, even meals at kindergartens have to be paid for.

Reform's city government chair Kristen Michal said that abolishing the fees would save families with one child in kindergarten €854 per year, and those with two, €1,708 per year.

Michal proposed finding the bulk of the €6 million by discontinuing Tallinna TV, seen as the mouthpiece of the ruling Centre Party, altogether. The channel stopped broadcasting last month, but still creates online content, it is reported. Other sources, Michal said, could result from more efficient public-private procurements for city contracts.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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