New immigrant children in Estonian schools and nursery schools
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Having signed international conventions and being a member of the EU, Estonian schools are obligated to accept, educate and raise all children of school age who are living on Estonian territory (with the exception of the children of diplomats). That also includes the children of so-called new immigrants - workers, asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants who have arrived to Estonia from the EU or other states - who wish to commence their studies in an Estonian school and who have lived in Estonia less than three years.

Parents who have recently arrived in Estonia can enrol their children in paid international schools located in Tallinn and Tartu; however, the fees of these schools may not be affordable to many families. In choosing an Estonian or Russian speaking school, the parents want to make sure that their children receive a good education, which would allow them to continue their studies in another country. This raises the question of the syllabus of our school and readiness for accepting a foreign language-speaking child.

New immigrants may not speak Estonian or arrive at the school/kindergarten at the start of the school year; instead, they can arrive in the middle of the school year. Therefore, every educational institution can be faced with a problem, where, for example, a Spanish- or Italian-speaking child arrives and neither the child nor the parents speak English, let alone Estonian.

Increasingly, Estonian families returning after living abroad for an extended period have become a problem; their children have been born abroad or have lived most of their lives in another country and therefore also have difficulties with Estonian.


The main problems with children arriving in Estonia from abroad are:

  • Estonian schools/kindergartens have little experience in dealing with children of new immigrants
  • the problem goes unnoticed until one day, unexpectedly, the arrival of a new foreign language speaking student or child is announced
  • the teachers’ training does not include a systematic preparation for working with children of new immigrants

What has been done and what is happening?


Since 2003, the Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Research have co-operated on integration projects for new immigrants. Among other things, the Foundation has published various support materials for teachers, guides and information materials, etc.


For parents and children


Website TERE-TERE. Website created for informing new immigrant students, their parents and teachers, at The website includes information about Estonia, the school system, the experiences of teachers and schools, links to learning materials and other useful information. The website is updated continuously.

Information brochures in Estonian, English and Russian with an overview of the organisation of education in Estonia. The aim is to help the parents of new immigrant children find their way around our education system.

Guidelines in Estonian and English introducing the Estonian education organisation. The guide deals with practical issues such as: a brief summary of the Estonian school system, the school day of a student, dressing for Estonian schools, study kits, the responsibilities of the school staff, co-operation between parents and the school, breaks and holidays, etc.

For schools and teachers

Over the years, Integration and Migration Foundation Our People has published various teaching materials and organised additional training for teachers. The teaching materials are available here!