Starting with this school year, most subjects at Miina Härma Gymnasium may be studied in English, from primary school through the end of upper secondary school, which significantly improves the conditions of service for international instructors serving at the Baltic Defence College in Tartu.
Sven Sakkov, Deputy Undersecretary for Defence Policy at the Ministry of Defence, said that Estonia, as the host nation of the Baltic Defence College, has been aware of the issue of education for the children of the international staff as an important problem for quite some time, and the need for resolving the issue was also emphasised by the international review that was prepared on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the College.
“It is very important that the problem is being solved, to a significant extent, with the assistance of a recognised school in Tartu, as a result of which the attractiveness of Tartu as a study and service location for international officers is going to increase,” Sakkov said.
Colonel Almantas Leika, the senior national representative of the Lithuanian contingent serving at the Baltic Defence College and Course Director of the Higher Command Studies Course at the College, said he was very pleased with the educational options introduced in the school-year just begun, even though not all of the subjects can be studied in English quite yet. “I am confident that in terms of our children’s education there is a lot of potential to develop in the most positive direction,” Colonel Leika said.
Ene Tannberg, Principal of Miina Härma Gymnasium, explained that schooling this many non-Estonian speaking children was a new challenge for their school and that in the longer term they would definitely investigate opportunities for the introduction of the International Baccalaureate. “For our teachers, this is a new challenge in professional terms, which at the same time also affords our students an interesting opportunity to interact with peers from various cultures,” Tannberg added. According to her, non-Estonian speaking children would be offered most of the subjects in English; however, some specialised subjects would be taken together with Estonian-speaking children.
Starting with this academic year, a total of 15 non-Estonian speaking students will be studying at Miina Härma Gymnasium. Of these, ten are from the families of international instructors at the Baltic Defence College. Estonia is the host nation of Baltic Defence College, and its obligations include also offering opportunities for quality education for the children of the international instructors at the Baltic Defence College.