Minority education in Estonia : practical implementation of human rights standards: an effective policy to integrate the Russian minority?

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Zaiane, Linda
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This thesis assesses Estonian educational law and policy with regard to their compliance with international legal standards concerning the right to education of minorities and their positive and negative impact on the integration of the Russian minority in Estonia. The research questions are: Is the Estonian policy compatible with international human rights law and standards? Is it an effective policy in terms of integration of the Russian minority? This thesis focuses on a legal approach to the topic, incorporating the relevant international and national legislation regarding the right to education. As the implementation of legislation is linked to policy strategies and to their impact on peoples‟ lives, I will also analyse sociopolitical aspects. The literature thus includes these different fields: history, international law and sociology/political science often based on surveys. Opinions of international monitoring bodies and Estonian State Reports to these bodies, articles of Estonian newspapers and information requested from the Ministry of Education or taken from its website have been used. The research results are summarized in three chapters. Chapter 1 gives the historic background of current inter-ethnic relations and of educational legislation in Estonia. Chapter 2 explains the relevant international legal standards for minority rights and the right to education. Chapter 3 examines if the national education system complies with international law and standards? In a second step policy questions relevant for integration are discussed including the policy documents on integration, segregation and multiculturalism. The general conclusions show that Estonia is complying with its international legal obligations. However, these are rather vague and leave a wide margin of appreciation to states. In terms of educational realities Estonian authorities could improve aspects regarding the curricula and take steps towards the inclusion of all people affected by educational policies.
Second semester University: Tartu University
education, integration, minority groups, Estonia