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A dream	of	multicultural	school	in	
Estonia
Dr.	Aune	Valk
Head	of	analyses department,	Ministry of	Education and	Research,	Estonia
International	conference „Integration Challenges in	a	Radicalizing World“
29	– 30	November	2016,	Tallinn,	Estonia
•Facts.	Today:	too	segregated ways of	studying
•Wishes.	Preferences for school and	kindergarten
languages and	models
•Why differences?	What is the problem?
•Dream for future
Today
1)	In	kindergarten:
• Ca	55%	in	Russian language institutions
• Ca	20%	at	Estonian	language institutions
• Ca	25%	in	language immersion programmes
2)	In	basicschool
• Ca	70-72%	Russian language schools
• Ca	8-9%	studyat	Estonian	school,	
• Ca	20%	in	language immersion classes
Language immersion becomes more popular
13
16
24
14
16
20
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
2011/12 2013/14 2015/16
%	of children	with	non-Estonian	as	home	language	going	to	
language	immersion	programme
Kindergarten Basic	school
Participation	in	language	immersion	classes	has	been	doubled	during	last	10	years
But not studying at	Estonian-language
schools?
Participation in	Estonian	language	kindergarten	
and	school	has	been	stable	over	last	5	years
•Ca	20%	children	whose	mother	tonque is	not	
Estonian	go	to	Estonian	language	kindergarten	
•Ca	8%	to	Estonian	language	basic schools
Why?	
What parents would like?
According to	Integration	Monitoring	2015:
• 32%	of	Russian	language	parents	prefer	Basic	education	in	
Estonian	and	
• 17% in	language	immersion	
• Only	5%	of	parents	do	not	want	multicultural	and	– lingual	
education
• 66%	of	Estonian	parents and	77%	of	parents from other
nations think that Estonian-language studies couldstart	in	
kindergarten (LM2015)
What students would like?
Russian language upper-secondary school graduates:	
„There should be more lessons in	Estonian	language
and	these could start	before gymnasium,	both for
developing Estonian	language skills as well as
promoting communication with each other and	
creating stronger common ground.“
„ühiseid	eestikeelseid	ainetunde	võiks	olla	rohkem	ning	
need	võiksid	alata	juba	enne	gümnaasiumiastet,	seda	
nii	eesti	keele	oskuse	arendamise,	omavahelise	
suhtluse	tihendamise	kui	ka	tugevama	ühtsustunde	
tekitamiseks“	(LM	2015	intervjuud)
WHY	problem?	Connection to Estonia
• 50-75%	of	Russian young people connect their future with
Estonia	(Idnurm jt	2011;	Mägi,	Nestor	2012;	Metslang	jt	
2013)
• Uppers secondary gradutes who intend to move abroad:
• 7%	of	Estonian	speakers
• 31%	of	Russian speakers (Mägi,	Nestor	2012).	
• Only 42%	of	Russian speaking upper secondary students
value Estonian	citizenship as relevant	identity (Valk	jt	2013)
Different identitiesamong youth from 4	countries (Valk	jt	
2013)
14.9
22.4
24.1
19.5
15
13.4
38.1
33.1
12.7
42.9
52.6
41.8
3.6
11.3
29.1
29.9
37
38.4
51.4
52.8
53.5
64.4
68.6
83.2
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
(Ex-)Soviet	person
East-European(s)
Member	of	my	ethnic	group
Person	belonging	to	several	cultures	- multicultural
North-European(s)
Finno-Ugric
World	citizen(s)	- Global
Baltic
Nordic	
Inhabitant	of	my	region	(Regional)
Citizen	of	European	Union(s)	
Citizen	of	[the	country	of	the	respondent]	National
the	per	cent	of	students	who	considered	particular	
identification	important	or	very	important	
4	country	average estest estrus
WHY	problem?	Language skills
Language learning starts too	late and	is not related to real-
life communication
• Minimal	required Estonian	language level (B1)	is acquired by2/3	of	
Russian speakingBasic	school graduates
• Only 20%	Russian youth uses Estonian	language on	everydaybases
• Language skills related to academic performance:	r=0,75	
(Connection between IQ	and	language skills weaker before age 10-12)
DREAM	of	multicultural school
• At	the level of	basic school (currently Estonian-
language subjects mainly in	gymnasium)
• Proactive strategy of	schools
• Preparing parents
• Creating positive image:	„Open start“
• Clear strategy for recruiting students
• Main	language is Estonia,	if needed additional
classes in	Estonian
• High level mother tonque and	culture learning,	
some subjects in	English/Russian
DREAM
• Some subjects,	hobby classes in	another language (English,	
Russian,	..)	also for Estonian	children
• International	approach and	European	identity
• Supporting multicultural identity:	creating meaning (what
does it mean to be Russian-Estonian,	Syrian-Estonian)	and	
positive image.	Making multicultural identity an easy choice
• Cross-cultural interaction games in	smaller classes,	later
lessons for cross-cultural communication
DREAM
• Multiperspective text-books in
• Citizenship education:	pluses and	minuses of	multiculturalism
• History:	the role of	different ethnicities in	Estonian	history,	Estonian	
history centered on	land rather than ethnicity
• Literature:	Russian-Estonian	authors; emigration,	multicultural issues
in	literature
• Open teachers,	when needed bilingual teachers
NOT	JUST	DREAM
• In	2015	Ministry started to create the concept of	
multicultural school
• Reality in	today’s schools with mixed student body:	more
oriented to assimilatiom.	No	high level teaching of	mother
tonque.	Little attention to relations.
• 2016	started 4	pilot schools and	1	kindergarten:	Kohtla-
Järve	Järve	G;	Kunda	ÜG;	Kiltsi	PK,	Kohila	Lasteaed;	Juhan	
Liivi	nim.	Alatskivi	KK
• Plan to work out policy based on	their experiences
poliitika
Thank you!
aune.valk@hm.ee
Presentation given at	International	conference
Integration Challenges in	a	Radicalising World
29	– 30	November	2016	in	Tallinn,	Estonia
For	more	conference	materials	and	presentations
please	visit www.misakonverents.ee

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Dr. Aune Valk: A dream of multicultural school in Estonia

  • 1. A dream of multicultural school in Estonia Dr. Aune Valk Head of analyses department, Ministry of Education and Research, Estonia International conference „Integration Challenges in a Radicalizing World“ 29 – 30 November 2016, Tallinn, Estonia
  • 2. •Facts. Today: too segregated ways of studying •Wishes. Preferences for school and kindergarten languages and models •Why differences? What is the problem? •Dream for future
  • 3. Today 1) In kindergarten: • Ca 55% in Russian language institutions • Ca 20% at Estonian language institutions • Ca 25% in language immersion programmes 2) In basicschool • Ca 70-72% Russian language schools • Ca 8-9% studyat Estonian school, • Ca 20% in language immersion classes
  • 4. Language immersion becomes more popular 13 16 24 14 16 20 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 2011/12 2013/14 2015/16 % of children with non-Estonian as home language going to language immersion programme Kindergarten Basic school Participation in language immersion classes has been doubled during last 10 years
  • 5. But not studying at Estonian-language schools? Participation in Estonian language kindergarten and school has been stable over last 5 years •Ca 20% children whose mother tonque is not Estonian go to Estonian language kindergarten •Ca 8% to Estonian language basic schools
  • 6. Why? What parents would like? According to Integration Monitoring 2015: • 32% of Russian language parents prefer Basic education in Estonian and • 17% in language immersion • Only 5% of parents do not want multicultural and – lingual education • 66% of Estonian parents and 77% of parents from other nations think that Estonian-language studies couldstart in kindergarten (LM2015)
  • 7. What students would like? Russian language upper-secondary school graduates: „There should be more lessons in Estonian language and these could start before gymnasium, both for developing Estonian language skills as well as promoting communication with each other and creating stronger common ground.“ „ühiseid eestikeelseid ainetunde võiks olla rohkem ning need võiksid alata juba enne gümnaasiumiastet, seda nii eesti keele oskuse arendamise, omavahelise suhtluse tihendamise kui ka tugevama ühtsustunde tekitamiseks“ (LM 2015 intervjuud)
  • 8. WHY problem? Connection to Estonia • 50-75% of Russian young people connect their future with Estonia (Idnurm jt 2011; Mägi, Nestor 2012; Metslang jt 2013) • Uppers secondary gradutes who intend to move abroad: • 7% of Estonian speakers • 31% of Russian speakers (Mägi, Nestor 2012). • Only 42% of Russian speaking upper secondary students value Estonian citizenship as relevant identity (Valk jt 2013)
  • 9. Different identitiesamong youth from 4 countries (Valk jt 2013) 14.9 22.4 24.1 19.5 15 13.4 38.1 33.1 12.7 42.9 52.6 41.8 3.6 11.3 29.1 29.9 37 38.4 51.4 52.8 53.5 64.4 68.6 83.2 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 (Ex-)Soviet person East-European(s) Member of my ethnic group Person belonging to several cultures - multicultural North-European(s) Finno-Ugric World citizen(s) - Global Baltic Nordic Inhabitant of my region (Regional) Citizen of European Union(s) Citizen of [the country of the respondent] National the per cent of students who considered particular identification important or very important 4 country average estest estrus
  • 10. WHY problem? Language skills Language learning starts too late and is not related to real- life communication • Minimal required Estonian language level (B1) is acquired by2/3 of Russian speakingBasic school graduates • Only 20% Russian youth uses Estonian language on everydaybases • Language skills related to academic performance: r=0,75 (Connection between IQ and language skills weaker before age 10-12)
  • 11. DREAM of multicultural school • At the level of basic school (currently Estonian- language subjects mainly in gymnasium) • Proactive strategy of schools • Preparing parents • Creating positive image: „Open start“ • Clear strategy for recruiting students • Main language is Estonia, if needed additional classes in Estonian • High level mother tonque and culture learning, some subjects in English/Russian
  • 12. DREAM • Some subjects, hobby classes in another language (English, Russian, ..) also for Estonian children • International approach and European identity • Supporting multicultural identity: creating meaning (what does it mean to be Russian-Estonian, Syrian-Estonian) and positive image. Making multicultural identity an easy choice • Cross-cultural interaction games in smaller classes, later lessons for cross-cultural communication
  • 13. DREAM • Multiperspective text-books in • Citizenship education: pluses and minuses of multiculturalism • History: the role of different ethnicities in Estonian history, Estonian history centered on land rather than ethnicity • Literature: Russian-Estonian authors; emigration, multicultural issues in literature • Open teachers, when needed bilingual teachers
  • 14. NOT JUST DREAM • In 2015 Ministry started to create the concept of multicultural school • Reality in today’s schools with mixed student body: more oriented to assimilatiom. No high level teaching of mother tonque. Little attention to relations. • 2016 started 4 pilot schools and 1 kindergarten: Kohtla- Järve Järve G; Kunda ÜG; Kiltsi PK, Kohila Lasteaed; Juhan Liivi nim. Alatskivi KK • Plan to work out policy based on their experiences poliitika
  • 16. Presentation given at International conference Integration Challenges in a Radicalising World 29 – 30 November 2016 in Tallinn, Estonia For more conference materials and presentations please visit www.misakonverents.ee