Tartu’s Russian schools to switch to Estonian-language education

Estonia’s second-largest town, Tartu, has prepared an action plan for Estonian-language education for the years 2022-2025 that seeks to ensure a smooth transition to Estonian-language education in the town’s five Russian-language schools within four years.

The goal of the action plan is to switch over to Estonian-language education in Tartu Annelinna Upper Secondary School, Tartu Aleksander Puškin School, and the Kelluke, Annike and Mõmmik kindergartens by the 2025/2026 school year, the town said.

“All young people must have an equal opportunity for self-fulfilment and participation in society. Estonian-language education helps children and young people integrate into the Estonian cultural and value space and provides them with equal opportunities to participate in society and working life, and to continue their studies at the next level of education entirely in Estonian,” the mayor of Tartu, Urmas Klaas, said in a statement.

“Tartu is in a relatively good starting position, as Estonian language teaching has been continuously developed in bilingual schools and kindergartens in Tartu.”

The action plan will be implemented in close cooperation with schools, parents and experts, the Tartu town government said, adding that Estonian is taught through language immersion, which supports the development of multilingualism without harming the child’s mother tongue.

Tartu. Photo by Meelik Lokk.

Additional allowance for teachers

“In addition to the already successful exchanges of experience taking place in Tartu schools, in the coming years, the education network within Tartu will focus more broadly on supporting foreign language learners in the existing cultural and linguistic space.”

Around €350,000 will be earmarked each year for the implementation of the action plan, to be used for new job creation, teaching resources, trainings and activities to support language and cultural learning.

Starting with the 2022/2023 academic year, all five educational institutions will also pay an additional beginner’s allowance to teachers and support specialists coming to their first job who meet the qualification requirements and possess a C2 or higher level of proficiency in the Estonian language.

The exact conditions for the additional beginner’s allowance will be developed in autumn 2022, the Tartu town government added.

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