The Minister of Education and Science, Tõnis Lukas, presented today at a press conference the most important topics and activities of the beginning academic year, which are primarily aimed at ensuring high-quality general and professional education in Estonian and the future growth of teachers.

Minister Tõnis Lukas confirmed that in the government's action plan, educational issues have the most important place and the most important goal is to switch to Estonian-language education as soon as possible. "We are not starting from scratch - a lot has already been done, good examples can be given in several regions, and we will focus on Ida-Virumaa," said Lukas. He added that he considers the general salary increase for teachers to be very important and will also make a corresponding proposal during the state budget negotiations. "The goal is that the average salary of a teacher with a master's degree corresponds to 120 percent of the average salary in Estonia."

In the coming days, the Ministry of Education and Science will submit to the government a plan for the transition to Estonian-language education, where it will define the activities for the preparatory phase of the transition until March 2023. For the transition to Estonian-language education in early childhood education and basic education, the ministry will develop a bill to amend several laws, which, according to the coalition agreement, will be adopted by November 1.

Since, according to the coalition agreement, the transition to Estonian-language education in kindergartens and 1st and 4th grade will begin in 2024, the ministry is again planning to amend the regulation on teacher qualification requirements to include the requirement to know the national language as one of the qualification requirements as early as 2023. In order to encourage the addition of teachers who meet the qualification requirements in Ida-Virumaa, the ministry wants to establish a minimum wage coefficient of 1.5 for all teachers teaching in Estonian in Ida-Virumaa and 1.3 in early childhood education.

The finishing line is the updating of the national curricula of general education, according to the plan, the government should approve the regulations by the end of 2022. The number of weekly hours of the subject Estonian as a second language will be increased from 1st to 3rd. class from two hours to four hours, and 4.-7. class from four hours to five hours. Also, the attainable language level in the subject Estonian as a second language will be raised to the B2 level at the end of elementary school and to the C1 level at the end of high school.

The state allocates additional support to kindergartens for learning the Estonian language, several language learning subsidies are intended for schools, and various trainings are offered to teachers of children whose mother tongue is different from Estonian.

Providing high-quality education in Estonian is also one of the goals when starting new public schools and taking over the running of several schools from the local government to the state. For example, the Freedom School in Tallinn, created for students who arrived from Ukraine, will start working on September 1, and the state will take over the management of the Kohtla-Järve Järve School from the municipality. In addition, negotiations are underway to take over the management of Sillamäe Estonian Primary School and Sillamäe Gymnasium in a year.

The Ministry continues to implement the action plan for the succession of teachers, one part of which is the launch of the Teachers' Academy. Programs and activities supporting the professional development of teachers and leaders of educational institutions will also continue.

The information package includes the most important activities of the new academic year according to the ministry's four priorities, an overview of the most important activities of the ending academic year, instructions related to the spread of the coronavirus, and education statistics.