ERIC Number: EJ720333
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Reference Count: 14
Estonian Schoolscapes and the Marginalization of Regional Identity in Education
Brown, Kara D.
European Education, v37 n3 p78-89 Fall 2005
The educational environment in Estonia schools tends to celebrate European and national identities while pushing local identities to the periphery. In this northern Baltic state, the emphasis on using schools to reinforce the Estonian language and national identity takes place in the context of government-supported initiatives to use education both to integrate the country's approximately 300,000 Russian-speakers and to secure Estonia's existence as a sovereign state. In the past fifteen years, the Voro language--spoken by some 50,000 residents of a well-integrated, rural population in southeastern Estonia--has undergone a revival. The Voro consider themselves ethnic Estonians, speak Estonian fluently (many as a mother tongue), and, like other Estonian regional-language groups, have been lumped together with the national majority for decades or more. In a country where the Estonian language is the defining characteristic of national identity, Voro activists' focus on the regional language as the quintessential aspect of Voro identity challenges notions of Estonian national identity and diversity. This article argues that, despite regional activists' efforts, two educational factors frustrate attempts to develop and maintain regional and local identity: (1) the tradition of using schools as sites for cultivating a strong national identity, and (2) European integration and the new importance of fostering a European identity through education. Consequently, regional identity is effectively marginalized in Estonian education. (Contains 11 endnotes.)
Descriptors: Educational Discrimination, Regional Characteristics, Ethnic Groups, Language Minorities, Native Language Instruction, Social Integration, Nationalism, Ethnicity, Rural Schools, Foreign Countries
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Estonia