A study on the educational options and scholastic proficiency of new immigrant students
Counselling seminars for heads and teachers of vocational schools continue
The updated Citizen’s Handbook published
The catalogue of Estonian textbooks for general education schools now completed
New instruction material for supporting independent language studies soon to be completed
A survey on the use of Estonian in Russian-language vocational secondary education will be conducted
Praxis published an extensive report on the inclusion process of non-citizens
A seminar for the members of the steering group of “Integrating Estonia 2020” was held
Several foreign delegations visited MISA in September
A study commissioned by the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) on the educational options and scholastic proficiency of new immigrant students has been completed.
According to Liis Kasemets, the project manager at OÜ Mindipark, which carried out the study, the background of the people who have arrived in Estonia and began their studies at comprehensive schools in the last three years varies greatly in terms of ethnicity and home country, with nearly a third being made up of the children of returnees.
“Little over half of the children of new immigrants have gone to Estonian schools and the largest number of students, whose language of instruction is not Estonian, attend Estonian schools. According to teachers, approximately half of the new immigrant students struggle in their studies and the difficulties are mostly related to insufficient proficiency in the language of instruction, especially with Estonian. Difficulties entail, for example, the terminology, grammar and other similar aspects of subjects. Generally, the scholastic proficiency of new immigrants is similar to their contemporaries, and according to both teachers and parents, the proficiency of the majority of them, i.e. 75-80 per cent, responds to the students’ abilities,” Kasemets said.
Kasemets added that integrating the number of new immigrant students who have entered the Estonian educational system in recent years seems to be within the capabilities of schools. “Decisions are made based on specific cases, and fixed strategies for actions in teaching new immigrants are usually implemented in international schools and perhaps a few regular schools; however, the schools need additional means for organising the studies of new immigrants, for providing additional lessons, teaching assistants, creating or procuring special study materials, providing studying support and helping with cultural adaptation,” Kasemets explained.
The study also showed that to ensure a greater scholastic proficiency among new immigrant students, schoolmates and classmates as well as parents must be encouraged to get involved. Special attention should be paid to pre-teens, who tend to socialise with Estonians less, and to teenagers who name their contemporaries as their preferred socialising partners and helpers. The analysis of the study recommends paying more attention to informing the families about the Estonian education system and the functioning of specific schools on state, local and school level. The study states that when it comes to how the new immigrant students adjust, the school making contact and maintaining regular communication is an essential condition.
The wider aim of the study on the scholastic proficiency and educational options of new immigrant students was to look into how students who have recently moved to Estonia are coping academically and socially and what conditions are created for them. The study analysed the organisation of studies, academic results, social coping, as well as the attitudes of parents and teachers. The study mainly focused on new immigrant students at all levels of Estonian comprehensive schools.
The results of the study are available on MISA’s website. The project is funded by the state via the Ministry of Culture and the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals within the framework of the Estonian Integration Strategy 2008-2013.
For additional information, please contact: Maarja Mänd, co-ordinator of MISA’s Multicultural Education Unit, phone 659 9853, e-mail [email protected]
Led by the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA), the counselling seminars for heads and teachers of vocational schools continue in October.
The seminars aim to inform the heads and teachers of vocational schools about available counselling, and the partial introduction of Estonian as the language of instruction on the level of vocational secondary education. In addition, the seminars also offer information on implementing integrated subject and language courses and talk about options to support students whose first language is different from the language of study in both the organisation as well as methods of study.
In addition to three counselling seminars held in Narva, Jõhvi and Sillamäe, MISA also plans to hold two more seminars in Tallinn this autumn.
“The advantage of the seminars is the opportunity to take part in group counselling, where the heads and teachers of vocational schools have a chance to get advice and find answers to questions related to the studying process. Group counselling makes it easier to learn about the challenges of other schools and find better solutions for organising one’s work,” Head of the Lifelong Learning Unit of MISA Eduard Odinets explained.
“We urge heads of schools and teachers to participate, because the seminars offer an opportunity to interact with their colleagues from other schools, get new ideas for problem-solving and find better practical solutions,” Odinets encouraged.
The seminars are held within the framework of the “Language Learning Development 2011-2013” programme of the measure “Language Learning Development” of the priority axis “Lifelong Learning” of the European Social Fund Human Resources Development Operational Plan. Participation in seminars is free of charge for heads and teachers of vocational schools.
For additional information, please contact: Marje Sarapuu, Co-ordinator of MISA’s Lifelong Learning Unit, phone: 659 9068, e-mail: [email protected]
Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) has published an updated Citizen’s Handbook, which is intended as an aid to people planning to apply for Estonian citizenship.
“In co-operation with Ilmamaa Publishers, we have made considerable updates to the existing citizen’s handbook. The new handbook contains information on the functioning of the Estonian state and all kinds of important information useful to the future citizen,” coordinator of MISA’s Civil Education and Migration Unit Igor Ljapin commented.
“The handbook gives an overview of the Estonian state on a very different level – for instance, you can learn about rights and obligations, citizenship, safety and national defense, as well as healthcare, the job market and education,” Ljapin added. Additionally, the handbook covers various subjects related to family, home, Estonian civil society, entrepreneurship, and the European Union.
Updating the Citizen’s Handbook was funded by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals and by the state via the Ministry of Culture within the framework of the “Estonian Integration Strategy 2008-2013”. You can read the Citizen's Handbook here!
For additional information, please contact: Igor Ljapin, coordinator of MISA’s Civil Education and Migration Unit, phone 659 9034, e-mail [email protected]
A catalogue of teaching materials, commissioned by the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA), has been completed, giving an overview of Estonian textbooks used in forms 4-12 at Estonian general education schools.
The target group of the catalogue is the subject teachers at schools with a language of instruction other than Estonian, who teach their subjects in Estonian.
“The catalogue offers the teachers a quick overview of available Estonian textbooks and allows them to decide whether the books are suitable for their students. For a more informed decision, however, it is definitely necessary to take a closer look at the study materials,” Mare Kitsnik, the editor of the catalogue, commented.
The catalogue contains a list of essential textbooks in Estonian for forms 4-12 in Estonian schools with bibliographical information on the materials. The catalogue also gives an overview on whether the specific item helps or hinders the learning process of a student whose first language is not Estonian. The assessment is based on the observations and analysis of an expert.
The catalogue was compiled by Niina Rock, the librarian of the Haabersti Russian Upper Secondary School, and Mare Kitsnik, a freelance expert on Estonian as a second language. The catalogue of textbooks is available on MISA’s website.
The catalogue of textbooks was commissioned by the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) and funded by the Ministry of Education and Research.
For additional information, please contact: Maarja Mänd, Co-ordinator of MISA’s Multicultural Education Unit, phone 659 9853, e-mail [email protected]
The institute of Estonian Language and Culture at Tallinn University is about to complete guidelines for adult language students who wish to maintain and perfect their Estonian skills. The instruction materials are aimed at people who have attended Estonian language classes and help to maintain their language skills even when they have no wish or opportunity to interact in Estonian on a daily basis.
The supplementary materials compiled by language expert and Ph.D. Helena Metslang are meant to be used after completing language courses, e-language studies, language practice, fellowships/practices, language clubs or other form of language studies, but the materials can also be used in parallel with studies.
The guidelines will be translated from Estonian to Russian and English and will be made available to language students and teachers by the end of the year, free of charge and both electronically as well as in print.
The instruction materials for maintaining language skills are compiled within the framework of the “Language Learning Development 2011-2013” programme of the measure “Language Learning Development” of the priority axis “Lifelong Learning” of the European Social Fund Human Resources Development Operational Plan.
For additional information, please contact: Tea Kotkas, Co-ordinator for MISA’s Lifelong Learning Unit, phone 659 9061, e-mail [email protected]
Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) contracted OÜ Saar Poll to conduct a survey to analyse how the official language is being used in the study process at vocational education institutions that offer vocational secondary education in Russian.
“A survey will be carried out in September and October among the pupils, teachers and heads of schools of vocational schools that provide vocational secondary education in Russian to determine their attitude towards the transition to instruction in Estonian. The primary objective of the survey is to find out on which premises it is possible to start the implementation of instruction in Estonian at the level of vocational secondary education at vocational schools in near future,” Eduard Odinets, the Head of Lifelong Learning Unit of MISA, explained.
The survey will be conducted in all twelve vocational education institutions of Tallinn and Ida-Viru County that provide vocational secondary education in Russian.
“The pupils are asked about the acquisition of Estonian language, their assessment of studying Estonian at vocational education institutions and learning subjects in Estonian. Estonian language teachers will answer the questions regarding the volumes and effectiveness of Estonian language learning in Russian-language groups, methods used and study materials,” Odinets said.
The teachers of general subjects and specialty modules have to assess, among other things, their readiness to start teaching their subject or module to Russian-language groups in Estonian at the level of vocational secondary education in the following two academic years. The questionnaires for the heads of schools include the topic of availability of required resources and the biggest hindrances in the transition to instruction in the Estonian language.
The survey was prepared in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research to support the transition of Russian vocational secondary education groups to Estonian-language instruction in compliance with the current Vocational Education Institutions Act. The transition to instruction in Estonian at the level of vocational secondary education must be completed no later than by 1 September 2020.
The results of the survey will be used to map the actual situation and offer improved measures to ensure a smooth transition to Estonian-language instruction for pupils, teachers and heads of schools. The survey contracted by MISA is a repeat survey. A similar survey was conducted in 2009. The survey is being financed from the resources of the European Social Fund programme “Developing language learning 2011–2013”.
For further information, please contact: Liilika Raudhein, Coordinator, MISA Lifelong Learning Unit, tel 659 9841, e-mail [email protected]
On 18 September, Praxis and the Institute of Baltic Studies published the results of an extensive process of the inclusion of non-citizens that took part earlier this year. The report assembled recommendations by nearly 170 third country nationals and people without citizenship living in Estonia.
The suggestions made by people from 25 different countries cover areas like employment, education, the availability of public services, participating in a community and decision-making processes, cultural variety and learning Estonian. The aim of the integration discussions was to include the foreign citizens living in Estonia in decision-making processes and collect recommendations for the national development plan, Integrating Estonia 2020, and its implementation.
“Various challenges remain in the field of integration and it is impossible to highlight just one important problem or proposal,” noted Praxis analyst Maiu Uus, one of the leaders of the discussions. “One of the most important results was the confirmation that integration is a shared responsibility and the success of the new strategy depends on smooth co-operation between different ministries and authorities. The recommendations assembled in the report are helpful for leaders of various fields in planning their activities in the coming years,” Uus added.
According to the organisers, the talks at discussion clubs were constructive, lively and mostly positive, focusing mainly on finding solutions. “It’s wrong to think that this part of the population is extremist or extremely critical,” Uus said and added that there is clear support for turning the new line of the planned development agenda to focus more on common activities that bring together different ethnic groups.
“A distinct problem that was mentioned consistently through all the discussions was the unavailability of information for both Russian-speaking citizens who have lived here for a long time as well as new immigrants,” Kristina Kallas from the Institute of Baltic Studies explained. “While there has been a lot of talk of the Russian population living in a different media space than the Estonians, it now transpired that the English-speaking new immigrants are also not in touch with what’s happening in Estonia,” Kallas noted.
In addition to the question of being informed, several other important issues were raised. For example, people still expressed concern over the fluctuating quality of language courses, and also over the insufficient availability of language practice and language courses, especially in areas outside Tallinn and Tartu. Also, both new immigrants as well as Russian-speaking residents highlighted the unfriendly attitude towards foreigners in Estonian society, which often expresses itself in direct or indirect discrimination.
Similar to earlier surveys, in their discussion, both Russian and English-speaking immigrants considered the availability of Estonian legislation in a language they understand to be most vital. “Considering this, it is a pity that the proposal for organising the translation of legislation into Russian did not make it past the first reading after only 40 minutes of discussion at the plenary assembly of the Riigikogu yesterday,” the analysts pointed out.
The report also highlights that the target group eagerly looks forward to a decrease in bureaucracy and the recommendations also concern the quality of service at the offices of the citizenship and migration bureau.
At discussions held in Tallinn, Tartu and Ida-Virumaa, the greatest number of participants were Russian citizens; at the same time, the proportion of US citizens was greater and the proportion of people with undefined citizenship was smaller than in the entire population.
The integration discussions were led and the report compiled by the independent organisations Centre for Policy Studies Praxis and the Institute of Baltic Studies. The project was subsidised by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals, the Ministry of Culture and the Integration, and the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People.
For additional information, please contact: Maiu Uus, Program Analyst for the Governance and Civil Society Program, phone 640 8006, e-mail [email protected]
The members of the steering group drawing up the “Integrating Estonia 2020” document took part in the development seminar held on 18-19 September in Valga and Tartu, with the aim to gain input on the new integration development plan currently being drawn up and to discuss best solutions and measures.
“The locations of the development seminar were Valga and Tartu. In terms of integration, Valga is certainly a notable example with great experiences in cross-border co-operation. The seminar included meetings at the Valga Town Government with various leaders of educational, non-profit and recreational activities, representatives of the Valka Town Government, the non-profit organisation Joy; the exhibition of the Patriotic Museum and the concept for the Military Festival was introduced,” said Maarja Mänd, co-ordinator of the Multicultural Education Unit at the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA).
“In Tartu, meetings were held with representatives of the non-profit organisation Pagulasabi (Refugee Help) and the Johannes Mihkelson Centre. The curators of the Estonian National Museum outlined the upcoming exhibition on Romas and introduced the Roma community,” Mänd added.
In the course of the seminar, there was a discussion on the development plan “Integrating Estonia 2020”, headed by integration experts Raivo Vetik from Tallinn University and Kristina Kallas from the Institute of Baltic Studies.
As many as 30 people from state institutions and organisations linked to implementing integration projects took part in the seminar.
The seminar took place within the framework of the project “Best Practices”, and the project is funded by the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People via the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals and by the state via the Ministry of Culture. The promoter of the project is BDA Consulting.
For additional information, please contact: Maarja Mänd, co-ordinator of the Multicultural Education Unit at MISA, phone: 659 9853, e-mail: [email protected]
In September, the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) hosted several foreign delegations, with the representatives visiting the Foundation to learn from Estonian experiences in integration.
“The Georgian delegation, led by the Reintegration Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, was mainly interested in the general planning and implementation of integration policy. The guests were given an in-depth overview of how Estonian integration agendas and implementation plans were compiled, how the activities are financed and how meeting goals is monitored. We also outlined specific activities that are being implemented, focusing on issues related to ensuring the cohesion of society,” said Eduard Odinets, Head of MISA’s Lifelong Learning Unit, commenting on the visit organised by the Estonian Centre of Eastern Partnership.
In September, the Foundation was also visited by a delegation from the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic, comprising both officials as well as employees of centres for supporting the integration of foreigners located in various parts of the country. “The Czechs were very interested in Estonia’s experiences with issues related to how new immigrants adjust and integrate. The MISA staff were able to give an in-depth account of the activities of the foundation in this area. We discussed in length the issues of the transition between the financing periods of the European structural funds and related challenges. Estonia and the Czech Republic have quite similar problems in that regard. Naturally, it was also discussed which strategy would be best for continuing integration activities, what with a change in financial support of the European Union for countries that are no longer new members,” Odinets commented. The Czech delegation’s visit was organised by the Ministry of Culture.
“MISA also hosted a delegation of education officials and specialists from Macedonia, who were mainly interested in issues related to multicultural education and creating a multi-language learning environment. This presented us with a good opportunity to introduce the Foundation’s activities both at general education schools as well as vocational and higher education,” Odinets explained and added that the delegation was also very interested in the study materials on specialist language for vocational schools and supplementary study materials for general education schools, commissioned by MISA. For example, MISA introduced the delegation to the simulation game “Sources”, which is used for learning and practicing the integration of different cultures. MISA’s activities in supporting the transition to Estonian as the language of instruction in vocational secondary education were also introduced. At the suggestion of MISA, the delegation also visited Viimsi Secondary School, which has for years successfully implemented civic education programmes supported by the Foundation. The visit of the Macedonian delegation was organised by the OSCE mission in Skopje.
“MISA is always happy to welcome foreign visitors and introduce Estonia’s progress in the integration process, but we are also happy to talk about the challenges that lie ahead. Exchanging experiences with other countries is very useful in solving various problems. As an institution, we have many positive experiences and successful activities; however, there is also a great deal we still can learn and improve,” Odinets concluded.
For additional information, please contact: Eduard Odinets, head of MISA’s Lifelong Learning Unit, phone: 501 8934, e-mail: [email protected]