UN Human Rights Council 43rd Session – Item 3: ID with the SR on the minority issues – Intervention by ESTONIA – 11 March 2020

Madame President,

Estonia aligns itself with the statement by the European Union and would like to add some remarks in its national capacity.

Mr. Special Rapporteur, we appreciate the raising of this important issue of education and language. Estonia is a small country with a population of about 1.3 million people. Among them over 200 different languages are being used as mother tongue according to the data from January 2019. Estonia acknowledges that adequate implementation of the rights of minorities requires both promotion of their integration to the society on equal basis with others as well as the preservation of their language and cultural traditions.

Education has in Estonia always been valued highly and considered both a guarantee of individual success and one of the main drivers of the country’s development. The OECD PISA results suggest that Estonia’s education system is effective and ensures equality – students’ academic performance is independent of their socio-economic background. Consolidated school network enables every child to receive a top-quality education in Estonian on all levels while also preserving their own language and identity.

At the same time, the Estonian education system enables children to acquire basic education in other languages besides Estonian or go through language immersion programmes, if the local municipality or school keeper decides so. Regardless of the language of instruction, high-quality education is equally accessible to all, and obtaining education does not depend on the parents’ economic or social standing or education. The State offers also the opportunity to study in Sunday schools of ethnic minorities and covers their daily operational costs.

Mr. Varennes, as your report shows, there are already many instruments regulating this topic that have not been implemented. With this in mind, we would like to seek your views on the added value of the possible new instrument that you recommend in your report.

Thank you!