At a meeting today, the government approved the report on the fulfilment of the 2017 implementation programme for the Integrating Estonia 2020 development plan and its activities for 2018-2020. The activities that had been planned to date were completed and significant sectoral changes are expected in the future.
‘We can definitely say that, based on the 2017 report on the fulfilment of the integration plan and the results of the integration monitoring conducted in 2017, the activities carried out by the state in the name of a more cohesive society have produced results,’ said Minister of Culture Indrek Saar. ‘It is gratifying to see that proficiency in the national language is improving year after year among both young people and adults. It is also significant that the national identity and sense of cohesion is strengthening among those who have another native language,’ said Saar.
Compared to the 2015 monitoring, the percentage of Russian-Estonians and Estonians with weak national identity has declined, and the number of those with strong national identity has increased in both groups. During the last few years, the self-assessment of Estonian language proficiency among people of other nationalities has improved. If, in 2008, 19% of people of other ethnic groups could not speak Estonian at all, then by 2017, this had essentially been halved to 10%.
‘Significant changes can be expected in the next implementation stage of the integration plan. We want to raise Estonian language instruction to a new level for adults. To achieve this, we will continue to search for and implement smart and flexible new solutions in adult language instruction, by ensuring diversity in the forms of study and providing more opportunities to practice what has been learned. Thus, in early March, we introduced Speakly, a new smart language app for learning Estonian, which more than 20 thousand people are using today to learn Estonian. The opportunities for language study and practice will also be expanded by the language houses – one in Tallinn and the other in Narva – which are in the process of being established. Managers for these houses have already been found and their teams are being assembled,’ said Saar.
‘Although the participation in the language immersion programme has almost doubled in the last 11 years, more attention should be paid to the teaching of Estonian as a second language in basic schools and vocational schools. Currently, not all students are sufficiently proficient in the Estonian language when they complete basic school to be able to successfully continue their secondary educations. We still need to deal with ensuring the quality of national language instruction for vocational students whose native language is not Estonian, especially considered that fact that the transition to Estonian-language teaching in secondary vocational education has started,’ Saar stressed.
‘We will also be making a significant change regarding informativeness and common information space of people who speak Russian as their native language. The broadcasting range of ETV+, the public broadcasting’s Russian-language TV channel, will improve and the government plans to spend €300 thousand per year to achieve this,’ said Saar. During the last decade or so, the assessment of people from other nationalities regarding their general level of knowledge about Estonian events has approached that of Estonians. At the same time, the audience for the Russian-language public broadcasting media increased from 14.3% to 16.7% among people of other nationalities, and the audience for Radio 4 increased from 38.8% to 44.2%.
Another problem is that the integration indicators in East-Viru County continue to be very poor in comparison to other regions. ‘In order to increase the involvement of civic associations from East-Viru Counry in policymaking and decision-making processes, we will introduce several new institutions to East-Viru County, including the Integration Foundation, Estonian Language House and Narva Vaba Lava; and we will also support cultural events that attract people from other regions to East-Viru County and which, in turn, support enterprise,’ Saar affirmed.
Non-ethnic Estonians continue to be at a disadvantage in the Estonian labour market compared to ethnic Estonians, and women of other ethnic backgrounds are especially vulnerable when it comes to job security. The unemployment rate among ethnic Estonians was 5.5% in 2016, the unemployment rate for residents whose native language is not Estonian was 9.7% (1.76 times more); and in 2017, this difference had doubled, i.e. Estonians 4.4% and other ethnic groups 8.8%.
The 2017 implementation programme for the development plan was conducted for a total amount of €11,750,241. The budget planned for the implementation for the development plan for the period 2018 to 2020 is €46,017,390.
Every year, the Minister of Culture submits an implementation programme for the sectoral Integrating Estonian 2020 development plan to the Government of the Republic for the subsequent period. The implementation programme will include a description of the acclimatisation and integration activities, the amount of funding and the criteria, as well as the organisations responsible for the activities. The Minister of Culture also submits a report on the fulfilment of the implementation programme for the integration plan for the previous year, which describes the achievement of the development plan and implementation programme goals, and the effectiveness of the activities.
The report on the fulfilment of the implementation programme for the Integrating Estonia 2020 development plan and the implementation programme for the new period, as well as the results of the 2017 monitoring regarding the integration of Estonian society, are available here.