Many of Estonia's Russian speakers are back in school

About half of all Russian-speaking residents of Estonia want to study Estonian, the coordinators of the European Union's PHARE program say. As reported by the newspaper Postimees, in the past four years, the program has provided courses in Estonian at no charge or at half-price for 12,000 adults and 5,000 juveniles. The program has spent approximately USD 3.5 million on the program.

The head of the project, Khille Khinsberg, was quoted as saying that people were choosing to study Estonian as a practical necessity. 'Most people study the language as a way to get or keep a job. Young people study Estonian so they can go on to higher education. Very few people study the language just to pass the citizenship examinations. Our research shows that some 90,000 people don't want to and don't plan to study Estonian,' Khinsberg said.

The Fund for the Integration of Estonia plans to continue its support for the PHARE program. It expects to spend more than USD 4.6 million for the language courses through 2006.

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