Integration Foundation action plan for 2016 covers entire field of integration
Integration Foundation expert group helps develop counselling service
Language café launches separate classes for beginners and advanced language learners
Tallinn University lecturers provide training to national minority Sunday school teachers
Union of National Minorities marks decade of uniting cultural associations in Pärnu County
In 2016 the Integration and Migration Foundation is providing almost 4.7 million euros in support of a wide range of integration projects and activities. The detailed action plan for the year was approved at a meeting of the foundation’s supervisory board on 26 January. The aims of the foundation’s activities in 2016 are primarily based on the ‘Integrating Estonia 2020’ development plan. Its activities are implemented via state budget resources allocated by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Research and with the support of the European Social Fund.
Dmitri Burnašev, the director of the Integration Foundation, says that in planning all of its activities the foundation is guided by the field of integration as a whole, taking into account people’s primary needs and their desire to feel at home in Estonia whilst giving people the chance to retain their linguistic and cultural identity. “Through our counselling service we’re able to help and support people in dealing with agencies and authorities, we explain to them what their fundamental rights are and we give them an introduction to national laws,” Burnašev explained. “Organising classes for those who registered for Estonian language studies on our website last year remains a priority for us as well. Plus we have language and cultural immersion clubs and training events to get people ready to take the Estonian citizenship exam.” The director added that project competitions enable the Integration Foundation to support the organisation of sports and cultural events for speakers of languages other than Estonian. “We’ve recently acquired some display technology with which we hope theatres and museums will be able to provide more events for non-Estonian speakers,” he said. “And this year the state is continuing to support the preservation of the mother tongues and culture of the national minorities living in Estonia by funding the activities of associations and the work of Sunday schools.”
The Integration Foundation provides its counselling service to less successfully integrated residents of Estonia in Tallinn, Harju County, Narva, Ida-Viru County and elsewhere in the country. It is currently working to develop its information system and to inform the public more broadly of its counselling service.
Among the key activities of the foundation in 2016 is the organisation of the free Estonian language courses at the A1, B1 and B2 levels which commenced last year. The aim is to provide such studies to at least 2000 people all over Estonia this year. The first training events for 700 less successfully integrated residents of Estonia and new immigrants on the Estonian Constitution and the Citizenship Act will also be starting this year, and language and cultural immersion clubs will be opening their doors all over the country.
The financing of the activities of the umbrella organisations of national minority cultural associations and Sunday schools will continue in 2016. This year greater emphasis will be given to promoting and developing the activities of Sunday schools, with a series of open-door days, round tables and training events being organised. New activities will include the provision of display technology for theatres and museums with the aim of helping such establishments attract Russian- and English-speaking audiences.
The Integration Foundation will also be launching project competitions in support of the events of national minority and foreign Estonian cultural associations. Furthermore, for the first time in a number of years the foundation will be organising an international integration-themed conference which will bring together experts in the field from Estonia and abroad.
The schedule of 2016 project competitions and procurements will be published on the website in March.
The Integration and Migration Foundation has been offering its counselling service to less successfully integrated residents of Estonia since autumn 2014. In moulding the service the foundation has drafted in experts for the development of the services provided and to explain to those living in the country the key topics covered therein.
The development and implementation of the counselling and information system are designed to ensure the availability of the counselling service and information supporting integration to both less successfully integrated residents of Estonia and new immigrants. Existing public services and service providers at the national and local levels were mapped in 2015. The foundation is working on developing the services with all of the ministries and agencies connected to the field of integration, including the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Police and Border Guard Board, the Unemployment Insurance Fund and of course local authorities.
Since 2015 the foundation has been supported in developing the counselling and information service by an expert group comprising representatives of ministries, Tallinn and Narva city governments and the Association of Estonian Cities (itself representing local authorities). The group is charged with the task of developing the counselling service and analysing earlier projects and studies related to counselling. The foundation has also established a partner network which includes organisations involved in the provision of public services. Information and experience are exchanged via the network on how to more effectively support less successfully integrated residents and new immigrants in coping and adapting in Estonia.
Following a meeting in January, the expert group has recommended that the Counselling Centre start coordinating the forwarding of partner network news so as to ensure the improved distribution of important information to organisations involved in serving and counselling less successfully integrated people.
The counselling and information system is being developed and maintained as part of the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project of the European Social Fund.
For further information please contact: Kätlin Kõverik | Senior Adviser, Counselling Centre | E-mail: [email protected] | Telephone: +372 659 9032
Language cafés supporting Estonian language studies have been held at the Integration Foundation’s Counselling Centre in Narva since spring 2015. Starting this year, separate events are being held for beginners and more advanced language learners.
“The language café isn’t your classic language lesson,” explained Irina Rakova, a counsellor at the centre. “It’s a way of supporting the studies of those who want a chance to speak Estonian, expand their vocabulary and simply chat to others in a stress-free atmosphere. The get-togethers are free of charge – all you need to do is show up on time! We let people know what the theme each week is, and provide any teaching materials we use. And there’s tea and coffee, too!”
There are only two prerequisites for the beginner classes at the language café: motivation; and knowledge of the Estonian alphabet. This year’s get-togethers will focus on basic vocabulary, Estonian customs and traditions, and what to do in order to get by in everyday situations. The basis of teaching work will be the lessons provided in the online Keeleklikk course and the subjects they cover.
The get-togethers for more advanced language learners are open to anyone who already gets by in everyday conversation but would like to broaden their vocabulary and to practise their spoken Estonian more. The basis of these lessons will be Pille ja Lauri lood /Pille and Lauri’s Stories/, a set of teaching materials supporting Estonian language studies. The themes of the get-togethers will be based on the structure of the teaching materials. The students will use worksheets, watch instructive videos and practise vocabulary related to the theme of the day.
Language café get-togethers are held for beginners and more advanced students of Estonian every other Monday from 10:00-11:00 and from 17:00-18:00 in Room 308 at the Integration Foundation’s Counselling Centre on the 3rd floor at Kerese 3, Narva.
The activities of the Counselling Centre are financed as part of the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project of the European Social Fund.
For further information please contact: Integration Foundation Counselling Centre | E-mail: [email protected] | Free information line: +372 800 9999
National minority Sunday school news
On the last weekend in January the Integration Foundation organised a two-day in-service training event in Toila for teachers from national minority Sunday schools. The theme of the training was ‘More effective teaching of the mother tongue in Sunday schools’. A total of 32 teachers from all over Estonia took part in the event, which was led by Tallinn University lecturers Irina Moissejenko and Natalia Tšuikina.
Training on developing the mother tongue in Sunday school conditions aimed to help the teachers improve the quality and effectiveness of their mother tongue teaching and to motivate youngsters to learn the language. The teachers were given an overview of basic knowledge on the development of language studies and were introduced to ways of using illustrative and technical resources in language lessons. The lecturers provided the teachers with materials they can use in class and which each school can adapt to the needs of their studies, the age of their students and the level of their language skills. The teachers also got to try practical exercises and to share their own schools’ experience with their peers.
Since students today are more than happy to use the Internet in their studies, the second part of the training event outlined for the teachers how to create and use an online journal, how to support their students’ language studies and how to share teaching materials with students with the help of the Internet.
The teachers can implement the skills and knowledge they obtained at the training event in their Sunday school work so as to make the teaching of the mother tongue more effective and more interesting for students.
The Integration Foundation organises regular in-service training for national minority Sunday school teachers each year. The training is financed from the state budget via the Ministry of Education and Research.
For further information please contact: Kristina Pirgop | Director of Partnership Relations, Integration Foundation | Telephone: 659 9024 | E-mail: [email protected]
National minority cultural association umbrella organisation news
The activities of the national minority cultural associations operating in Pärnu, including those with Russian as their mother tongue, have been led by the NPO Raduga – a.k.a. the Union of National Minorities – for more than 10 years. The union brings together 12 such associations, with a total of 380 members. Raduga director Galina Ivanova shares the union’s most important activities and events in recent years with readers of the Integration Foundation newsletter.
“An umbrella organisation, as the body that brings together a large number of associations, needs a definite vision and an action plan,” she says. “To this end we drew up a seven-year development and action plan in 2013 as part of a project called ‘Under One Umbrella’. In 2014 and 2015 we ran a project called ‘The Development Dive of Minority Cultural Associations into the e-State’ through which we showcased for our members e-state solutions and ways of using social media, and we streamlined our member organisations’ paperwork. As part of this project we also published a brochure about what Raduga does, with information in Estonian as well as in the languages of the national minority cultural associations. Plus we put together ‘passports’ for each cultural association, which is to say an introductory portfolio with the association’s statutes and other key documents, overviews of their projects, reports and more.” Ivanova added that the umbrella organisation plans to pursue further joint projects in 2016, as well as to offer the cultural associations the opportunity to learn how to deal with the media and thus the general public as a whole so as to ensure that their activities are visible in society.
Ivanova says that a number of opportunities have been created in the last five years for closer cooperation with Estonian-language NPOs and other organisations. Raduga enjoys a good working relationship with the schools, libraries and museums in Pärnu, as well as with the Estonian Open Air Museum in Tallinn. “An entire page is dedicated to Raduga in the brochure produced by the Pärnu County Business and Development Centre showcasing the county and what goes on here,” she said. “And every year in November we mark our organisation’s birthday with a special seminar. Since 2011 we’ve been presenting the ‘Friend to Raduga’ title at the seminar to someone who’s played an important role for national minority cultural associations.”
Taking part in events, says Ivanova, presents the associations with an excellent opportunity to show themselves and highlight their culture, language, traditions, cuisine and other things that make them special. It also gives them the chance to find out more about other associations and find friends and cooperation partners.
“It’s important in Estonian society that every national group hangs onto and preserves its own cultural heritage, because then people respect other cultures as well,” Ivanova said, underscoring the importance of the work and very existence of national minority cultural associations. “Personal development makes you stronger and teaches you to be more decisive, to take greater responsibility and to make compromises. In that way a person starts to realise that they’re valuable to society.”
The activities of national minority umbrella organisations are supported by the Integration Foundation from the state budget via the Ministry of Culture.
For further information please contact:
Galina Ivanova | Director, Union of National Minorities | Mobile: +372 5800 8847 | E-mail: [email protected]
Kristina Pirgop | Director of Partnership Relations, Integration Foundation | Telephone: +372 659 9024 | E-mail: [email protected]