Parents of children with Russian as their mother tongue are increasingly taking their children to Estonian language schools in the hope that this will give them a better foundation for entering a good high school. Nowadays there are more non-Estonian students than Estonians in many schools, which means that in some cases the Estonian elementary schools (Põhikool) have turned into Russian-speaking schools, but with Estonian as the language of study. Since children of both nationalities study together, it is difficult for teachers to ensure quality education, it is argued.
“If children with poor Estonian language skills and children who speak it as their mother tongue learn together, it has a negative impact on the Estonian children. And we want to change that,” said Liina Kersna, Minister for Education and Research.
The Ministry of Education and Research is already working on reorganizing the curricula in primary schools accordingly, reports ERR.
“At least in schools, where there are many people with other mother tongues, it should be possible for Estonians to learn Estonian as literature as their mother tongue, while non-Estonian-speaking children can use their mother tongue as their main language. However, this requires financial resources and Changes in the elementary school curriculum, “said Kersna.
The growing demand from non-Estonian children for Estonian schools is also largely related to the reported inferior teaching of the national language in many Russian schools.
Russian elementary school principal Jõhvi Irina Šulgina admitted that some Russian schools do not have a serious attitude towards teaching Estonian. This is underlined by the fact that in some Russian families the problem is parents’ negative attitudes towards the need to learn the national language.
“There are families where parents say, ‘I managed to live without the Estonian language and you will too. You will find your niche and live quietly without speaking Estonian, “said Šulgina.
The aim of Minister Kernsa is to implement the changes in Estonian teaching in the mixed schools from the next school year.
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