Today, the European School of Brussels IV celebrated the opening of the Estonian section. Starting this autumn, the children of Estonian families living in Brussels can acquire basic education in Estonian. This is the first time that basic education in Estonian is provided in a European School. Until now, Estonians lacked a section in their native language and studied either in English, French or German, and had only one native language lesson per day.
"Establishment of the Estonian section is the natural development of providing education in Estonian within the European Schools system. The provision of education in Estonian is essential for ensuring that the children whose parents work in Brussels can acquire high-quality education in their native language. For nations with a small population, their native language is a fundamental aspect of self-consciousness and of the nation's preservation," said Minister Mailis Reps and added: "If we intend to maintain our national identity, we should all cherish and protect the Estonian language and culture, and teach and learn in Estonian. It's a true privilege to provide your children access to general education in Estonian whilst living abroad. Now we have such opportunity in Brussels, Belgium whereas this remains only a dream for those living abroad elsewhere. And once families return to Estonia, students who have acquired education in Estonian will have a smoother transition in terms of continuing their educational endeavours."
The main objective of European Schools is to provide uniform education to the children of the servants of the European Communities with the fundamental principle being the provision of education in native language. A European School will open a native language section, if the number of children speaking that language is sufficient. Over the 13-year period when Estonian students have learned in the European School in Brussels, their number has grown each year. The establishment of the Estonian section was driven by the ever growing number of students as well as the right to high-quality education in native language arising from the Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools. Today, 14 schools in seven different countries teach nearly 25,000 students based on the Convention. Further, there are 14 accredited European Schools, incl. the Tallinn European School.
This academic year, Estonian is taught in six European Schools: the European School of Brussels II and the European School of Brussels IV in Belgium, the European School of Luxembourg I in Luxembourg, the European School of Alicante in Spain, and the European School of Munich and the European School of Frankfurt in Germany. A total of 256 students originating from Estonia learn in European Schools.
European School of Brussels IV http://www.eeb4.be/en
Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools and an overview of educational institutions http://www.eursc.eu/en