National identity of Estonians and Estonian Russians in a multicultural Estonia
National minority cultural associations work with Estonian cultural associations and students
Find out for yourself what national minority Sunday schools do
National minority Sunday schools organise student get-togethers on special days
Latest survey on national identity
Author: Raivo Vetik
The focus of Riigikogu Toimetised issue 32/2015 is the national identity of Estonians and Russian Estonians, with the subject examined in depth in an article by Raivo Vetik, a professor of political science at Tallinn University.
The article has two aims: to provide a theoretical approach that takes the context of a multicultural society into account in giving meaning to national identity; and to analyse the data of the most recent monitoring of integration in Estonian society in the light of this approach.
The theoretical half of the article outlines why such a study is needed and why it is important to give meaning to national identity, highlighting the principle of the mutual link between the identities of majority and minority groups. The second half of the article is dedicated to an empirical analysis of the national identity of Estonians and Russian Estonians on the basis of the data of the latest integration monitoring, bringing to the fore its connections with demographic aspects and indicators of human and social capital.
Within the integration monitoring the national identity of Russian Estonians was delineated as a social orientation expressing their participation in society which is characterised by the importance given to belonging to the Estonian nation in comparison with being a member of their own nationality, appreciation of the related rights and obligations and acceptance of key symbols of the Estonian nation. An index compromising three components was devised in order to measure these aspects: responses to the questions/statements ‘If you think of yourself as a representative of your nationality and as a representative of the Estonian nation, which group do you consider yourself to belong to?’, ‘The Estonian state protects my rights and provides public benefits’ and ‘I feel proud when I see the Estonian flag flying’.
Estonians’ national identity was defined in the monitoring as a social orientation expressing their willingness to include minorities which is characterised by their recognition of members of national minorities as an important part of Estonian society, consideration of their interests based on the principle of equality and appreciation for belonging to the Estonian nation in comparison with being a member of their own nationality. The index here also comprised three components – responses to the questions/statements ‘Involving non-Estonians in the running of the Estonian state is beneficial to Estonia’, ‘We should be better aware of the views of non-Estonians and give them more consideration’ and ‘If you think of yourself as a representative of your nationality and as a representative of the Estonian nation, which group do you consider yourself to belong to?’.
Analysis carried out on the basis of the indexes showed that while the weak, average and strong national identity of respondents among Russian Estonians was 17%, 47% and 36% respectively, that of Estonians was 24%, 57% and 19%. If we deem those with at least an average level of national identity to be supporters of a strong core in Estonia as a multicultural society, it can be said that almost 80% of both groups form the two pillars on which the integrity of multicultural Estonian society stands. Given the historical and geopolitical context of relations between our two nations, we are dealing with a sufficiently balanced system. This makes a good starting point from which to plan further integration policy.
The article is available in full (in Estonian) here.
National minority cultural association umbrella organisation news
During the last 12 months the umbrella organisations of national minority cultural associations have done a lot towards fulfilling new development objectives and have involved Estonian educational and cultural associations and Estonian youngsters in their activities.
A national minority cultural association umbrella organisation is a group which brings together at least five national minority cultural associations, which is to say member organisations. The main goals of the activities of the umbrella organisation are to ensure the preservation of the national minority cultures that fall within their area of oversight, to ensure the effective operations of their member associations and to promote their activities to the public on an ongoing basis.
With the implementation of the new funding model adopted in 2015, expectations have risen regarding the results of the work of both national minority cultural associations and their umbrella organisations. The latter are faced with the challenge of getting young people involved in the activities of cultural associations more broadly than simply taking part in the events they organise. It is important to generate interest among youngsters and a desire to not only join associations, but to continue their activities in the future. Young people are offered a variety of opportunities to contribute to the work of associations, from organising events to drawing up and implementing projects. Efforts are also made to involve the community as a whole in activities and to raise awareness among the leaders of member organisations via a range of events and training sessions.
“National minority cultural associations are more interested in and willing to work more closely with Estonian cultural associations – libraries, community centres and the like,” explained Kristina Pirgop, the director of partnership relations with the Integration Foundation. “It’s great that they’re organising events promoting their own cultures in schools, too, since contact with other cultures is one way young people become more tolerant.”
Previously, support was allocated in order for associations to preserve their language and culture and to promote their cultural heritage in Estonia on a wider scale. Since 2015 the focus has been the development and sustainability of umbrella organisations and their members. Key arguments in obtaining support are the involvement of young people in the activities of organisations, growth in the administrative capabilities of umbrella organisations, prospects in terms of finding additional sources of financing and development of cooperation with Estonian cultural associations.
The funding model of umbrella organisations was also amended in 2015. The round of applications carried out on the basis thereof resulted in support being allocated for periods of up to three years at a time. The total budget for the application round increased by 50,000 euros, enabling larger amounts of support to be allocated to a number of umbrella organisations. The payments are made to organisations to which support has been allocated in two parts every year: 50% at the start of the budgetary year and the remaining 50% six months later.
“National minority cultural associations have been good partners to the Integration Foundation since our early years, but the funding model we were using created a number of problems for them,” Pirgop said. “For example, there was the problem of lacking the financial resources to pay bills before the final payment of the support was received. There was also a complicated situation where the funding period started on 1 February but support was being allocated in May. The new model supports the development of umbrella organisations and enables them to solve these problems.”
If any Estonian cultural associations wish to work with national minority cultural associations, please contact Kristina Pirgop (+372 659 9024 | [email protected]) so that she can pass on your details.
The financing of national minority cultural associations is supported by the Ministry of Culture.
For further information please contact: Kristina Pirgop | Director of Partnership Relations, Integration Foundation | Telephone: +372 659 9024 | E-mail: [email protected].
National minority Sunday school news
This year, in association with national minority Sunday schools, the Integration Foundation is launching a brand new series of events – open days at Sunday schools.
During the open days, anyone interested will have the opportunity to attend special lessons and find out what goes on at the schools in more detail. Children between the ages of 3 and 18 (varying from school to school) can study the language and learn about the culture of their forefathers at national minority Sunday schools.
“The open days could well be the first time the schools come into contact with new students,” said Kristina Pirgop, the director of partnership relations with the Integration Foundation. “It’s a great opportunity for kids and their parents to find out what goes on at Sunday schools. They give kids the chance to learn and experience something new. The teachers do everything they can to make what the kids learn as varied and interesting as possible, taking into account the ages of the students and everything that comes with that. In a lot of schools they don’t just study language and culture, but also folk dancing, national cuisine and the like. I really hope anyone interested makes the most of the open days we’ll be running.”
The first event in the series will be held at the Labora school of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, which will be opening its doors at 10:00 on 19 March 2016. The day will start with a lesson on egg-painting in which participants will find out about the Easter-time culture of painting eggs in Ukraine. Everybody will get the chance to paint their own egg, which they can take home with them. There will also be an excursion around the unique cultural centre, which under one roof houses a museum, a church, a calligraphy classroom and a paper workshop – and which is home to three different-coloured chickens! At the end of the event the attendees will be offered tea or coffee, cookies and baked potatoes. To register for the event, e-mail [email protected].
“Egg-painting forms part of global culture, but for Slavic peoples it means a lot more,” explained Anatoli Ljutjuk, the director of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre’s Sunday school. “Every symbol painted on our eggs has a special meaning. They enjoy almost cult status in Ukrainian culture, particularly Easter eggs. That said, egg-painting is common in everyday life as well, and has been for a long time. For example, in the past, if a young lady was taken with a young man, she would paint an egg and present it to him as a gift.”
The Labora Sunday school aims to provide children with Ukrainian roots with a place in which they are surrounded by their own culture, allowing them to practise their Ukrainian language and customs and reinforce their identity. The school is open to other interested people as well, regardless of their nationality or faith. All traditional practical activities give the children the chance to learn new skills and to express themselves in an individual way, learning more about Ukrainian culture and improving their language skills in the process.
The Sunday school also focuses on preserving, teaching and updating handicraft skills that are tending to become forgotten in today’s modern world.
The Ukrainian Cultural Centre organises egg-painting workshops for anyone interested all year round. Around 500 people participate in its workshops each year. The workshops can also be arranged to take place outside of Tallinn.
The activities of national minority Sunday schools are supported by the Ministry of Education and Research.
For further information please contact: Anatoli Ljutjuk | Director, Ukrainian Cultural Centre Sunday school | E-mail: [email protected].
Kristina Pirgop | Director of Partnership Relations, Integration Foundation | Telephone: +372 659 9024 | E-mail: [email protected].
Starting from this year, national minority Sunday schools are working with the Integration Foundation to mark special days with events to which students and teachers from other Sunday schools are being invited.
“This is an important initiative that will help students from Sunday schools get to know one another better and learn more about other cultures and traditions,” said Kristina Pirgop, the director of partnership relations with the Integration Foundation. “On the one hand, greater awareness among young people means greater tolerance in regard to other nationalities, while on the other, the students will be more active and more interested in Sunday school studies, since only the best students will be able to take part in the exchange project.”
On 26 March 2016 the Lemminkäinen Sunday school of the Ida-Viru County Association of Ingrian Finns will be hosting visitors from the Russian Sunday school of the Cultural Education Association, the NPO Estonia-Georgia National Society and the NPO Orhan Azerbaijan Hobby School in Tallinn.
The students from these schools will learn about the Easter traditions of the Ingrians and Finns, take part in a language lesson and get the chance to taste traditional Ingrian Finn dishes made at Easter time. Since the Saturday in question falls within Lent, the visitors will be offered a lunch menu of fish soup, Karelian pastries, poppy seed buns, the traditional Finnish dessert mämmi and a delicious tea which was once exported from Ingria to the rest of Europe.
The visitors will be showcasing their own cultures for their hosts through poems, songs and Easter traditions. “For Christians, Easter is the most important holiday of all, but there are differences and similarities between branches of the faith,” explained Roman Ljagu, the director of the Russian Cultural Sunday school in Tallinn. “The students from our school will be presenting special dishes made during Orthodox Easter, such as kulich and pascha, and telling the other students about Orthodox Easter traditions.”
The activities of national minority Sunday schools are financed by the Ministry of Education and Research.
For further information please contact: Maire Petrova | Director, Ida-Viru County Association of Ingrian Finns Sunday school| Mobile: +372 52 60 394 | E-mail: [email protected].
Kristina Pirgop | Director of Partnership Relations, Integration Foundation | Telephone: +372 659 9024 | E-mail: [email protected].