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Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps replied to the interpellation (No. 189) concerning the transition to the Estonian language as the language of instruction in Russian-language gymnasiums, submitted on 16 January by Member of the Riigikogu Katrin Saks.

Minister explained that the objective was to guarantee the graduates of gymnasiums better possibilities to face university entrance exams, to be excellent students at vocational schools and to be competitive at our labour force market. Mrs. Reps said that the implementation of the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act in 2007 should be dealt with by the Ministry as an action plan with the described goals, as was submitted to the Government.

Thorough analyses showed that the most expedient course of action would be to teach subjects with the so-called communicative orientation, where the spoken language necessary for everyday communication can be used most of all. First experiences of this method in Estonia already date from the sixties, with certain subjects being taught in English or German in schools and classes of advanced study of foreign languages. At present literature, geography and history are already taught in Estonian as selected subjects in Russian-language gymnasiums and classes of advanced Estonian studies.” Our Ministry has thus prepared an action plan to teach Estonian literature, but also geography, history of fine arts, history and social studies in Russian-language gymnasiums. These would be the subjects which are likely to suffer less on the lower language level and, as I have already said, would be subjects of communicative character,” Minister explained. Previous experiences have shown that mathematics and science subjects are not the most suitable to be taught in foreign languages, first of all, because of their very abstract nature. “Teaching subjects in Estonian could be launched only when the relevant preparations have been made. Therefore our main areas of activity are provision of teaching aids, in-service training of teachers and education of parents as well as schools,” Mrs. Reps stressed.

Minister highlighted the positive fact that different subjects were already taught in Estonian as selected courses or parts of study programmes. The in-service system of five subject training has been submitted to the Government. Mrs. Reps said that the Government would discuss this action plan already this week. After that the document would be made public on the website of the Ministry of Education and Research. According to Mrs. Reps, the tensions in Russian-language gymnasiums are connected with fears of young people, their parents and teachers that their education would suffer if they had to study in another language – the official language. Minister thinks that by proposing to teach one or another subject in the official language in a peaceful rhythm, this would provide Russian-speaking students with good knowledge of language, but would not harm their subject knowledge, nor bring along any other negative developments, lower the results of state examinations and everything else, and then we could get positive results in a peaceful pace. “The purpose of that is clear to me – a good command of the official language and being raised a good and active citizen,” Minister stressed.

Minister of Education and Research also replied to the interpellation (No. 193) concerning the health education in schools, submitted on 9 February by Members of the Riigikogu Nelli Kalikova, Ken-Marti Vaher and Siiri Sisask.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Edgar Savisaar replied to the interpellation (No. 190) concerning the ice road with Saaremaa, submitted on 26 January by Members of the Riigikogu Imre Sooäär and Avo Üprus.

Minister of the Environment Villu Reiljan replied to three interpellations: to the interpellation (No. 192) concerning the medical supplies and devices sterilisation centre, submitted on 8 February by Members of the Riigikogu Tõnis Lukas, Andres Herkel, Mart Nutt and Mart Laar, to the interpellation (No. 194) concerning the activities of the coal terminal of Coal Terminal Operator AS, submitted on 9 February by Members of the Riigikogu Tõnis Lukas, Andres Herkel, Mart Nutt and Mart Laar, and to the interpellation (No. 201) concerning the violations in commercial leasing of public property, submitted on 13 February by Members of the Riigikogu Indrek Raudne, Marko Pomerants and Aivar Õun.

The sitting ended at 6.08 p.m.

The verbatim record of the Riigikogu sitting (in Estonian) can be found at: http://web.riigikogu.ee/ems/plsql/stenograms.form

The Riigikogu Press Service

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