Anastassia Tuuder

Estonian Reading Association and Integration Foundation have been cooperating both in persons’ and organisations’ level. EstRA has suggested and invited presenters like Arne Targeton to INSA trainings for teachers. INSA has funded EstRA projects like “Hello, School” to support families of children with other home language learning in Estonian language schools.

For organising the 4th Baltic Sea Conference INSA has been instrumental in attracting presenters and participants and organising schoool visits including education institutions in Narva.

The Integration Foundation was founded on 31 March 1998. The Foundation was established by the Republic of Estonia, whose founders’ rights are exercised by the Ministry of Culture. During a little more than 20 years the Integration Foundation went through many changes, trying to find its right place in the Estonian society. Now it seems that the search has been successful.

The Foundation is a centre of excellence for theoretical and applied skills and knowledge in the field of integration and migration activities. To achieve that activities aimed at integrating Estonian society are initiated and supported and participants in the migration process are provided with assistance. More specifically the Foundation provides courses of Estonian language both through Estonian Language Houses in Tallinn and Narva as well as via Foundation’s partners all over Estonia. The Foundation’s counselling system helps those who look for information on different aspect of integration, language learning, and fitting in the Estonian society and connects potential clients with other services provided by the Foundation. It organises and supports events that bring together people of various backgrounds, especially of different ethnicities, places of living etc. Every year in November an international conference on integration is organised, world-renowned experts speak and discuss different integration aspects, such as education, job market, identity, communication and others. The Foundation also helps those, who want to come back to Estonia after spending considerable time studying or working abroad. And last but not least, national minority cultural associations get support from the Foundation to keep and promote their traditions.

The main goal of the year 2019 has been achieved: the Integration Foundation is operating also in Narva, and the Estonian Language Houses in Tallinn and Narva have steadily started in their new premises. Estonian Language Houses provide a great variety of opportunities to learn and practice the language. People are increasingly realizing that language is not only learnt in courses, but often open communication and participation in cultural activities is just what is needed to make passive language skills active. The counselling system and language learning are integrated with each other, learners, in consultation with counsellors, analyse their Estonian language skills and learning needs, and choose the type of learning that is best suited to them, be it at our Estonian Language Houses or other government agencies.

Last year (2019), the Ministry of Finance has entrusted the foundation with the implementation of the activities of its Ida-Viru program, as a result 14 events in the field of culture or sports in Ida-Viru County have received support. Thanks to these projects, Ida-Viru County is becoming more open and homely with each day also to those people who have not been to this area much before. However, local businesses have the support to make their services even better. An agreement with the ministry has been reached, the next two years the foundation will give a boost to projects that help make the living environment of Ida-Viru County more attractive and revitalise the economic development of the region.

The Integration Foundation is starting year 2020 on a high note, having got extra 2 mln euros in its budget to provide even more Estonian language courses, as the demand for them is very high. Both Estonian Language Houses are open and are very well received both in Narva and in Tallinn. The Integration Foundation is starting the new year confident and prepared, understanding however that expectations are justifiably very high.