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The Riigikogu adopted a Statement to declare the Moscow Patriarchate an institution sponsoring Russia’s aggression and discussed a written request to express no confidence in Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas, submitted by 22 members of the Riigikogu.

Discussion of the motion of no confidence

Martin Helme gave an overview of the written request to express no confidence. According to him, Minister of Education and Research Kristina Kallas can no longer be trusted as a minister. Helme presented the arguments that had led to the submission of the motion of no confidence. He pointed out the failure of the joint tests for entering state upper secondary schools, problems related to education reform, the transition to Estonian-language education, and issues related to the new generations and the remuneration of teachers.

Helme said that, in the light of the above, the members who had submitted the motion of no confidence did not believe that the minister would be able and willing to carry out the transition to Estonian-language education in a balanced way and solve other crises that had accumulated in the education system. That was why the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group and the Estonian Centre Party Group had submitted a motion of no confidence in minister Kristina Kallas.

Kallas explained that one of the first and biggest concerns in Estonian education over the past decade had been the issue of new generations of teachers.

“In order that we would be able to actually implement what we have agreed upon in the education strategy or in the action plan for new generations of teachers, it is not enough for the Minister of Education to sign one or another or a third document. Even if we could have twice as many teacher training graduates from the University of Tartu every year, this would still not be enough. For this to happen, it is necessary for all school owners who run general education schools in Estonia to jointly agree with all the other parties – teachers’ representatives, as well as state representatives, and private school owners – on what the working conditions of teachers should be, what the normal workload of teachers should be, so that the teaching profession becomes attractive again,” Kallas said.

According to the Minister, our number two concern in education is that we have quite a large number of young people with only basic education, and this number is growing. “Estonia has one of the highest drop-out rates from basic school in the European Union. We have a very large number of young people who do not progress to the next level of education, and they acquire neither secondary education, nor higher education or a profession or vocational education, or secondary vocational education. And that is quite a big concern,” Kallas admitted.

She added that the key to solving that concern really lay in vocational education and in whether vocational education was attractive and available as an alternative to those young people who left basic school and were supposed to go on to further education. “Today, the share of vocational choices at the end of basic school is very low, which is why quite a large number of young people either choose to go to upper secondary school, although they would probably prefer to study in secondary vocational education, or do not choose to continue their studies at all,” said Kallas.

“The vocational education reform is currently in the preparatory phase. It really cannot be rushed because this change is quite significant. So, we have the next two years to work towards implementing the vocational education reform in 2026,” the minister said.

Speaking about the creation of a uniform Estonian-language school, Kallas pointed out the 30-year-long attempt to unite Russian-language schools into the Estonian education system and into a uniform school network, so that we would no longer have segregated schools whereby children with different home languages attend different schools. The preparation and implementation of this education reform is one of the major reforms concerning education in Estonia.  She highlighted the sad fact that, as late as in 2023, 53% of graduates from Russian-language basic schools had still not passed the B1 level qualification exam in Estonian. “This is the unfinished work of all of us. This is why we are actually making this transition to Estonian-language education today,” said Kallas.

“According to the information sent by municipalities, we are currently short of about 90 teachers for the first and fourth grades, or transitional classes. In Tallinn and Ida-Viru County, we are lacking 90 teachers who should stand in front of the first and fourth grades and teach in Estonian,” Kallas admitted. She explained that the ministry and municipalities were working very intensively to urge those teachers to learn Estonian.

During the debate, Toomas Uibo (Estonia 200), Raimond Kaljulaid (Social Democratic Party), Helle-Moonika Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Vadim Belobrovtsev (Centre Party), Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) and Erkki Keldo (Reform Party) took the floor.

The motion of no confidence was not supported. 25 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of it and 60 were against.

The Riigikogu adopted a Statement

75 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Statement of the Riigikogu “On Declaring the Moscow Patriarchate an Institution Sponsoring the Military Aggression of the Russian Federation” (420 AE) and eight were against it.

With the Statement of the Riigikogu, the Riigikogu condemns the actions of the Moscow Patriarchate in justifying and supporting Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and declares the Moscow Patriarchate an institution sponsoring the military aggression of the Russian Federation. In the Statement, the Riigikogu also calls on all states and the international community to suppress the hostile influencing activities of the Moscow Patriarchate.

More information:

The sitting ended at 6.50 p.m.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

Photos (Author: Erik Peinar, Chancellery of the Riigikogu)

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu.

Riigikogu Press Service
Gunnar Paal,
+372 631 6351, +372 5190 2837
[email protected]
Questions: [email protected]