Transition to Estonian-language education in Tartu

By the year 2025, the City of Tartu aims to switch to Estonian-language education in its educational institutions. Teaching in municipal schools and kindergartens will be in Estonian. The Tartu City Government’s Action Plan for Estonian-language Education 2022-2025 states that all Tartu educational institutions will gradually switch to Estonian-language education over a period of four years, with separate indicators set for Tartu Annelinna Gymnasium and Tartu Aleksander Pushkin School, indicating how and to what extent the transition to Estonian-language education will take place over these four years.

The study aims to identify parents’ attitudes in Russian-medium schools and kindergartens in Tartu towards Estonian-medium education. It also aims to understand the background of these attitudes towards the transition to Estonian-medium education, mapping parents’ expectations and main fears. The study further seeks to offer solutions to alleviate these fears by raising parents’ language awareness.

To meet the objectives of the study, the following research questions have been set:

  1. How do parents of bilingual school leavers perceive their children’s preparation for further education and work?
  2. Are parents of bilingual school leavers’ parents and their children’s parents prepared for their children’s future education?
  3. What are the main concerns, fears, expectations, etc. of parents about the transition? Do and how do their children perceive them?
  4. What do the parents think might be the effects of the transition on the child’s Estonian language skills or acquisition, on the child’s mother tongue, on the child’s identity?
  5. Do individuals consider the Estonian language important, including its future impact or usefulness?How or to what extent? Is it possible to manage without Estonian?
  6. From the parents’ point of view, what are the solutions to ensure as smooth a transition as possible?

The researchers will use a questionnaire survey as the main data collection method in this study. Researchers will conduct the survey online. The aim is to identify the factors, conditions, and characteristics influencing parents’ support for the transition.

Representatives of the Tartu City Government and the UT team will collaborate in developing the research questions and thematic focus of the questionnaire. They will also create the exact questions and possible multiple-choice answers for the survey.

The researchers will conduct the project in two phases, with the first survey taking place in January 2023, and they have scheduled a follow-up survey for June 2024.