TALINN, April 14 – RAPSI. Only 230 of 1,500 teachers in Russian-language schools and kindergartens in Estonia have adequate proficiency in the official language, the country’s Language Inspectorate reported on Monday, citing last year’s statistics.

As many as 77 teachers were fined. The Inspectorate opened violation cases against 74 teachers, and 48 of them will pay over 3,600 euros in fines. The others have been given suspended fines, which means that they will be enforced if the teachers fail to fulfill the order to improve their language proficiency.

Apart from the primary inspections, the authorities conducted follow-up checks with regard to teachers who had been reprimanded earlier and identified 681 teachers who failed to fulfill the order. As a result, 29 of these teachers will pay over 2,400 euros in fines. Seven school principals were given suspended fines.

The Language Inspectorate is a government agency which reports to the Estonian Ministry of Science and Education. Its responsibility is to enforce language requirements in government agencies and local elected authorities, as well as in services, retail and healthcare.

The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities advised Estonia to stop imposing fines for the violation of language requirements and to consider abolishing the Language Inspectorate. Amnesty International in 2007 criticized the Estonian Language Inspectorate and termed it a “punitive agency.”