Russian-speaking kindergartens too short of teachers to switch to Estonian | New
Within two years, the Estonian state wants to switch all kindergartens in the country to teaching in Estonian. According to figures from the Ministry of Education and Research, there are currently 1,050 kindergarten teachers with insufficient command of the Estonian language.
Ingar Dubolazov, head of language policy in general education and vocational education and training (VET) at the Ministry of Education, said the ministry was working to get a clear overview of language skills.
“We also plan to go, with the support of experts, to also observe teaching in schools,” Dubolazov said. “I’d like to believe that in the future we’ll have a very clear and realistic picture of which teachers actually speak the language, who don’t, and who therefore won’t be used in teaching.”
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Bleobrovtsev (Center) said it was unrealistic to expect all Russian-speaking kindergarten teachers to be able to teach in Estonian in two years.
“The fact is that we lack teachers,” Belobrovtsev said. “We don’t have any more, if we talk about the fact that by 2024 all kindergarten teachers currently working in Russian-language kindergartens must have sufficient command of Estonian to be able to teach children in Estonian.”
With 14 groups, Tallinn’s Mustakivi Kindergarten is the largest in the city. 27 teachers are currently working there, only four of whom meet the new Estonian language proficiency qualification standard. According to the director of the kindergarten Svetlana Hruštšova, they are actively looking for new staff, but there are very few applicants.
“Of course, every kindergarten specifically prefers Estonian speakers, but there are very few of them,” Hruštšova said. “We have candidates who speak Estonian, but they don’t have a degree, for example, or they have a degree but lack pedagogical knowledge in early childhood education.”
The key issue over the next two years, Dubalov noted, will be salary growth for all teachers, as well as the ability of universities to provide more places in degree programs, especially as the Interest in the kindergarten teacher major has increased.
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