Schools in Tartu will exclude Russian language teaching before national deadline

Schools in Tartu will exclude Russian language teaching before national deadline

The city has developed its own language transition plan in the field of education with the aim of ensuring equal opportunities for all students in Estonian society

Estonia, once one of the republics of the Soviet Union and still home to a large Russian minority, maintained a bilingual education system in the years following its independence in 1991. At the end of the last year, however, and even before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the country’s Ministry of Education completed an action plan to transition schools to Estonian-language curricula by 2035. .

The city of Tartu, which is the second largest in the Baltic country, has taken up the challenge to speed things up even further by developing its own education transition plan for the period 2022-2025. The argument behind this? To provide opportunities for self-realization in a country that has increasingly turned away from its Soviet past and fostered a new national identity.

The mayor of Tartu, Urmas Klaas, describes the idea as follows:All young people should have an equal opportunity to develop and participate in society. Education in the Estonian language helps children and young people to integrate into the Estonian cultural and value space by providing them with equal opportunities to participate in society and working life, and to continue their education to the next level. entirely in Estonian. Tartu is in a relatively good starting position, as Estonian language education has continuously developed in bilingual schools and kindergartens in Tartu.

Education forges national identity

The goal of the action plan for education in Estonian is to switch to education in Estonian at the upper secondary school Tartu Annelinna, at the Tartu Aleksander Puškini school and at the kindergartens Kelluke, Annike and Mõmmik by the 2025/2026 school year.

It will be implemented in close collaboration with schools, parents and experts. Estonian is taught through language immersion, which promotes the development of multilingualism without harming the child’s mother tongue. In addition to the already successful exchanges of experience taking place in schools in Tartu, in the coming years the educational network in Tartu will focus more broadly on supporting foreign language learners in the existing cultural and linguistic space.

About 350,000 euros will be allocated each year for the implementation of the action plan, to be used for the creation of new jobs, educational resources, training and support activities for linguistic and cultural learning.

The issue of Estonian language education is very important throughout Estonia, and society clearly expects this issue to be actively addressed. Tartu’s action plan serves as a guide for the rest of Estonia,” added Tartu Deputy Mayor Lemmit Kaplinski.

Sylvester L. Goldfarb