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Ready, steady, art!
Legendary children’s magazine Täheke issued a number in Russian
MISA got students from Southern Estonia involved in discussions on democracy
Methodical handbook for teaching biology at upper secondary school published
68 teachers passed in-service training to work with students who have a native language other than the language of instruction
Last year 64 Estonians returned to their home country with the support of MISA

Ready, steady, art!
Meelika Hirmo

The Estonian Art Museum’s exhibition site Kumu brought together approximately 180 young teenagers from Estonian as well as Russian schools in order to combine athletic and mobile lifestyles with art and get students out of their daily routines.

The recently finished project ‘Kumu aesthletics’ was conducted in cooperation with an American, Tom Russotti, who is running the Institute for Aesthletics, and is about doing sports as art practice.

“Tom has been in Estonia before and considers sport as a mixture of physical activity, social communication, moving, performance and rituals. He created a special programme for children and added English to our communication, in addition to the Estonian and Russian already in use. Thanks to that, our students understood that there are many different languages, Russian or Estonian is just one among the many,” says Meeri Talvistu, employee of the Kumu educational centre and one of the coordinators of the project.

The objective of the project financed by the Integration and Migration Foundation (MISA) and the Ministry of Culture was to support the cooperation between children in a playful environment through art-related activities that are connected with sports. “We wanted the children to learn how to consider the opinions and interests of and understand one another better,” Talvistu commented.

Art and body language

During the lessons that took place once a week three weeks in a row, students were encouraged to think in art and body language in addition to Estonian, Russian and English, but upon request also in other languages. The experience of the Kumu Art Museum with the joint projects of Estonian and Russian-speaking children has shown that the language barrier does not hinder students working together.

“At first it could be seen that it wasn’t very easy for them. There was some resistant attitude from both sides and quite a lot of baggage that was brought along. It was nice to see how these issues were put behind through joint activities. In the end children were looking forward to working in pairs,” Talvistu expressed her joy.

The different team and exiting activities developed various skills, including visual attention. Active pattern hunt directed the participants to look at the Kumu building with a new view and identify the patterns within the building as well as outside the museum. The children were encouraged to move between the floors, sit on the floor, run on ramps and generally just feel good. In the framework of the programme a completely new sport was played: a mixture of handball and football – bootball.

“This year is the Year of Physical Activity and we wanted to support this idea. Doing sports and moving does not always mean you have to sweat a lot. The aim is to get children to be active.”

See the movie and photos about the project on Kumu’s website:

The project ‘Kumu aesthletics’ is supported by the Ministry of Culture and the implementation is coordinated by Integration and Migration Foundation.

Additional information: Marina Fanfora, Coordinator of Occupational Centre, phone 659 9068, e-mail

Legendary children’s magazine Täheke issued a number in Russian
Meelika Hirmo

Children’s magazine Täheke, which has given joy and new knowledge to children since 1960, will reach even more kids as a special Russian issue for the third year in a row.

With its 8,500 copies and 5,200 subscribers, the Estonian children’s magazine Täheke has the largest circulation primarily meant for 5–9-year old children. The children’s magazine is published in Estonian once a month, whereas the Russian Täheke has been published once a year since 2011. The editor-in-chief of Täheke admits that the reason lies in the small interest of the subscribers.

“When looking at the statistics of the people subscribing to magazines in Ida-Viru County, you can see that it is not possible. Parents must be very willing and interested and we need the state’s support as well. People have tried to do these Russian magazines, but they have not been successful. Perhaps those special projects when the magazine is free of charge is the only reasonable substitute,” Kivirähk reasons.

Not one of those “pink Barbie magazines”

Kivirähk admits that in Estonia you can buy different pink “Barbie magazines” and other publications issued for business reasons, but there are no ad-free developing magazines that promote reading and are aimed at children. The children’s magazines in Russian that have been ordered from St. Petersburg and Moscow and are occasionally sold at kiosks are rather aimed at advertising and pop culture.

Täheke is free from commerce and does not try to sell anything to children. The aim is to introduce domestic high-level literature and occasionally there is some foreign valuable literature meant for kids. Kivirähk emphasises that this is not a magazine that is a teacher to the child and an all-knowing aunt, who says what should be done and how. Täheke is more like a good friend that considers involving the kid important. Therefore the magazine actively publishes children’s work too.

“We offer contemporary reading to children. We are definitely not a pop-culture magazine, but we aim to speak in a modern language. If values have changed life, we must change as well. Naturally the essence is the same – we publish small stories for children interested in the world,” says Kivirähk.

This year the circulation of the Russian Täheke is 6,000 copies and the issues were distributed to libraries and schools all over the world free of charge. In many schools Täheke is used as study material providing extra value in addition to textbooks and other books. Kivirähk assures that there is plenty of interest in publishing the issue and if the project is supported in the future too, the editorial team will make children happy with a new addition next year as well.

Smart pillow and sheep for mayor

The Russian Täheke is not a translation of the last Estonian issue, but includes the best stories, poetry and other materials written for children for the past year. You can find anecdotes, puzzles, a cartoon strip, a crossword, the cooking corner and many other exciting things.

In this year’s issue there is a story, ‘Smart Pillow’, which is about a boy who puts a math book underneath his pillow when going to sleep, hoping to learn the subject this way. In the morning it turns out that the pillow has become wise. The smart pillow, which has even learned how to talk, starts teaching the boy and in the end even becomes the school’s math teacher.

In the same issue there is another funny story about a sheep that is given as a gift to a mother and a boy by an aunt living in the country. The sheep becomes a great favourite of the town’s people, clipping the parks and grass, designing gardens, and finally ending up as the mayor.

Täheke in Russian can be read in the local library and in most schools.

The Estonian magazine can be ordered on 617 7717 or by mailing to and read on the Internet:

Anne-Ly Reimaa, Deputy Secretary-General for Cultural Diversity of the Ministry of Culture

Cooperation is the foundation of integration. It is best supported by contacts between people. Sports competitions, cultural events, joint activities and teamwork for a specific purpose create positive experience. It is said that shared joy is double joy. Any kind of joint activity helps people understand each other better. We definitely want to continue supporting the cooperation activities of the younger as well as the older generation.  For this, the Integration and Migration Foundation has developed several project competitions that promote the communication, understanding and mutual recognition of Estonians and other nations living here. Culture and sport are definitely some of the best and easiest ways to do this.

The ‘Täheke in Russian 2014’ project is supported by the Integration and Migration Foundation from the state budget resources of the Ministry of Culture.

Additional information: Marina Fanfora, Coordinator of Occupational Centre, phone 659 9068, e-mail

MISA got students from Southern Estonia involved in discussions on democracy

In the autumn, the Tartu Club of the NPO Avatud Vabariik (Open Republic) visited various schools in Southern Estonia with the support of the Integration and Migration Foundation (MISA) and the Ministry of Education and Research in order to discuss the subjects civil society, democracy and human rights with youth. In addition, essay writing and drawing contests took place with schoolchildren all over Estonia competing.

During the project, NPO Avatud Vabariik visited four schools in Southern Estonia: Valga Russian Upper Secondary School, Lähte Co-Educational Upper Secondary School, Tartu Annelinna Upper Secondary School and Põltsamaa Co-Educational Upper Secondary School. In all schools the rights and obligations of the pupils as the citizens of the Republic of Estonia were discussed with primary school pupils. The basic school pupils were involved in the discussions of subjects important in the state and local level, which included the issues regarding Estonian language and citizenship, LGBT and school violence. The discussions were fascinating and brought excitement to the school day both of younger and older pupils.

The essay and drawing contests were popular: 50 pupils from the primary school submitted their work to the drawing competition “It’s good to live in Estonia” and 60 essays about the positive sides and problems in Estonia as well as more thorough overviews of the citizen status were received from basic school students. The best pupils were rewarded in a festive Christmas dinner that took place on 12 December in Tartu where all the schoolchildren who had participated in the project in one way or another were invited.

“As most of the projects are organised in Harju and Ida-Viru Counties, we are pleased that NPO Avatud Vabariik chose to include the schools of this region.  Involving the youth of Southern Estonia in such civil education and tolerance projects gives them the opportunity to create contacts not only in their own area, but also in the region as a whole,” commented Field Manager of the MISA Development Centre Toivo Sikk.

“The feedback gathered from schools about the visits as well as creative competitions was positive – students were interested in the subjects and methods and the discussion programme was a nice change from the everyday school routine. We believe and hope that we can create and organise such projects in the future too,” commented the Project Manager of NGO Avatud Vabariik Katariina Kiiver.

The project “Increasing the awareness of the youth of Southern Estonia about democracy, tolerance and civil society” was supported by the Ministry of Education and Research and the Integration and Migration Foundation. 

Additional information: Toivo Sikk, Field Manager of the MISA Development Centre, phone: 659 9850, e-mail:

Methodical handbook for teaching biology at upper secondary school published

A methodical handbook for teaching biology in Russian schools commissioned by the Integration and Migration Foundation (MISA) and supported by the Ministry of Culture was published, with the aim to aid teachers in teaching biology and pupils who speak Russian as their native language in learning.

Estonia’s challenge is to transfer to Estonian-language studies in schools, in order to ensure equal opportunities for all the citizens of Estonia. The teachers of biology, chemistry and languages composed a methodical handbook in order to make this transition easier and support the use of the textbook “Biology for Upper Secondary School” (A. Tenhunen et al Avita 2012) in conformity with the national curriculum.

“The handbook is structured as a collection of lesson summaries, covering the 30 subjects in the national curriculum of biology, with references to the connections with the curriculum of chemistry. In order to help the learner understand and acquire the contents of the subject, the integrated subject and language teaching (ISLS) methodology was adopted. Study texts are supplemented by study tasks, exercises, language teaching tasks, etc. The handbook comes with a CD, including supplementary presentations and 78 worksheets, which the teacher can print our or display on screen,” the coordinator of the MISA occupational centre Marina Fanfora introduced the contents of the handbook.

The PDF file of the handbook can be accessed here

The handbook is presented to biology and chemistry teachers at the beginning of 2015 in Tallinn and Ida-Viru County:

on 15 February in the Tallinn Central Library, Estonia pst 8 at 14:30 pm;
on 22 January 2015 at the Narva College of the University of Tartu at 14:00 pm.

The participants are introduced the handbook, its contents and some subjects. In addition, Dr. Riina Zordania will be speaking of implementing the achievements of genetics in daily practice. People who wish to participate in the event are requested to inform of their attendance at

The handbook was published with the support of the Integration and Migration Foundation and the Ministry of Education and Research. The project was led by the foundation REC Estonia, later by the Environmental Education Association Etalon.

Additional information: Marina Fanfora, Coordinator of Occupational Centre, phone 659 9068, e-mail

68 teachers passed in-service training to work with students who have a native language other than the language of instruction

The University of Tartu and Tallinn University organised two in-service training courses for Estonian language and class teachers supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Our People Integration and Migration Foundation (MISA) in order to introduce teachers the concept of teaching students who have a native language other than the language of instruction and offer practical methods for supporting immigrants students.

68 teachers passed the in-service training: 33 teachers in the training organised by Tallinn University and 35 in the training of the University of Tartu. The training programmes contained lectures, school visits with lesson observations and meetings with the representatives of other cultures in Estonia. Study films were included in the programme too.

“Teachers across Estonia participated in the training of the University of Tartu. Among other things, the studies in Tallinn Lilleküla Upper Secondary School was observed where several practices have been developed for teaching in a multicultural class, the Armenian Cultural Association was visited in Tartu and an outdoor studies lesson was conducted at Tartu Lille Maja,” commented the coordinator of MISA Maria Ratassepp.

“The teachers considered the fact that the training format enabled them to exchange ideas and best practices with colleagues in addition to gaining new knowledge as the greatest value of both of the projects organised by the universities,” Ratassepp added.

As a result of passing the in-service training, teachers are better prepared to support students whose native language and cultural background are other than the language of instruction in adapting in general education schools and have more knowledge of the methods for teaching Estonian as a second language as well as the skills to advise subject teachers in this matter, if necessary.

The in-service training of teachers was supported by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals and the Ministry of Culture via the Integration and Migration Foundation.

Additional information about the training organised by the University of Tartu: Maria Ratassepp, coordinator of MISA, e-mail ; further information about the training organised by Tallinn University is provided by Marina Mõškova, Finance Manager of MISA, phone: 659 9845; e-mail

Last year 64 Estonians returned to their home country with the support of MISA

The Our People Integration and Migration Foundation (MISA) allocated a total of 56,590 euros in assistance to 64 Estonians or Estonian citizens returning to the country in 2014. As a comparison, last year MISA allocated assistance to 97 people of Estonian origin in the amount of 75,000 euros.

The objective of the support is to help compensate the expenses related to returning as well as facilitate adapting in Estonia. The primary conditions for applying for financial support are the person living abroad for at least 10 years and socioeconomic justification. The support can be applied for within 6 months as of actually returning to Estonia.

MISA has been supporting the return of ethnic Estonians and Estonian citizens from abroad to their home country since 1992. Needs-based assistance is also received through MISA by third country nationals who wish to waive their Estonian residence permit, leave Estonia and return to their home country.

Last year MISA allocated remigration support in the amount of 11,100 euros to 21 foreigners who were living in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit. Remigration or emigration support can be applied for by third country nationals (not citizens of the European Union or a Member State of the European Economic Area) who have lived in Estonia for at least 10 years, decided to voluntarily waive their Estonian residence permit and leave for their country of origin or to another country.

MISA will also be providing free consultation of migration-related issues within its competence to everyone in 2015.

For further information, please contact: Ion Braga, Consultant, phone: 659 9034, e-mail