TALLINN - Prime Minister Kaja Kallas on Monday replied to an interpellation by Social Democrat MPs Raimond Kaljulaid, Riina Sikkut, Heljo Pikhof and Eduard Odinets on the government's action program for 2021-2023, in which the MPs asked about the launch of an action plan for Estonian-language education.
The MPs who submitted the interpellation wanted to know whether the task of the Ministry of Education and Research, as set out in the action program, to draw up an action plan for Estonian-language education could be considered as the government preparing a transition to Estonian-language education, the Riigikogu press service said.
The premier replied in the affirmative and named 2035 at the latest as the deadline.
The MPs also wanted to know whether, for example, it has been agreed that the relevant action plan would be adopted as a government decision or submitted to the Riigikogu for approval.
Kallas explained that the Riigikogu has been involved in the preparation of the Estonian language development plan 2021-2035, which is in fact also one of the inputs in the drafting of the action plan. However, the premier said that she supports the approach of the Ministry of Education and Research, which is open to discussing the drafted action plan both in the Riigikogu and with the wider public and stakeholders.
"It is important that the widest possible circle of people involved in the teaching of languages, including umbrella organizations, networks, researchers, parents and other relevant figures, is involved in the preparation of this action plan," Kallas said.
According to the prime minister, the Ministry of Education and Research is currently drawing up this action plan and at this early stage there are no plans to amend the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act yet. All necessary legislative changes will be revealed in the process of the action plan. When it is clear exactly what steps need to be taken, it will also be clear whether the law needs to be changed and how.
The premier stressed that the action plan must be understood exactly as it says: we will launch an action plan for Estonian-language education to give everyone an equal opportunity to participate in society and working life and to continue their studies at the next level of education.
In drawing up this action plan, the government is also basing itself on the Development Plan for the Estonian Language 2021-2035, which was discussed in the Riigikogu, and which sets out the goal that "the transition has been made to predominantly Estonian-language school education, which means that teaching in the schools and kindergartens funded by the state and local governments is in Estonian," Kallas said.
Estonian-language school education ensures the integration of children and young people into Estonian cultural and value space and gives everyone an equal opportunity to participate in society and working life and continue their studies at the next level of education, the development plan says.
"In order to achieve this goal, an action plan work group on Estonian-language education has been convened in April 2021 and the deadline for the completion of the action plan is November this year. As a result of this work, the actions will be outlined to move towards a high-quality Estonian-language education system," Kallas added.