The Brief History of the Language Inspectorate

In order to implement the 1989 Language Act, a new governmental institution was formed on November 23, 1990, under the jurisdiction of the Minister of State: the Republic of Estonia State Language Board. At the end of 1990, the Estonian Language Centre, which dealt with the issues of teaching Estonian to adults, was brought under the control of the Language Board. The Estonian Language Centre, with its independent budget, was reorganized on December 2, 1991 as the Language Board’s teaching and methodology department, and this operated for 4 months before restoring its previous status under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education in April 1992. In the initial period, the basic functions of the Language Board were the organization and analysis of the observance of the Language Act, the implementation of means of persuasion as foreseen in the law, the development of language policy, directing socio-linguistic studies, reorganizing language teaching for adults, the development of language learning methodology, and language organization.

In 1993, the following departments were formed in the Language Board: administrative, research (renamed language policy department on November 2, 1994) and language inspectorate.

Due to the 1994 decision by the parliament which forbad the State Secretariat from having Boards under its jurisdiction, the Language Board went under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Education, as of November 1, 1994, and was renamed the State Language Board. This also resulted in extra functions for the Language Board. In addition to its unchanged primary task, supervision regarding the Language Act and other language regulating legal acts, the following tasks were also included: coordination of state language study for adults; further training and attestation for state language teachers and state examiners; enacting language thresholds, state language standards and language skill requirements; carrying out adult state language examinations and checking language levels.

In 1995, an additional department was created in Language Board - a language centre.

Due to the Republic of Estonia Act of 16.12.95, the title and jurisdiction of the Language Board again changed. The State Language Board became the Language Board, with 3 departments: language policy department (4 positions), administrative department (4 positions) and the language inspectorate (12 positions). Since the Ministry of Culture and Education was split into two separate ministries, the Language Board became a governmental body under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. The language center, which had existed for barely a year within the Language Board, became, at the beginning of 1996, the state language methodology department in the Educational Workers Training Centre.

As a result of the amendments to the Government of the Republic Act, 11.12.1996, the Language Board became the Language Inspectorate on January 1, 1998, whereby the management and organizational functions of the Inspectorate decreased, but the supervisory function increased.

Since October 1995, the Director of the Language Inspectorate is Ilmar Tomusk.

According to the current Language Inspectorate bylaws (approved through Regulation No 55 by the Minister of Education, 13.06.2002), there are 22 positions in the Inspectorate, including 15 inspectors. In addition to the management located at Endla tn 4 in Tallinn, there is also the Tallinn and Harju County supervisory division (11 positions), the Ida-Viru supervisory division (3 positions) and the southern Estonia supervisory division (1 position).

According to its bylaws, the Language Inspectorate is a governmental institution under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, which carries out state supervision and applies state authority as foreseen by the law. The primary task, therefore, of the Inspectorate is to ensure that the Language Act and other legal acts regulating language use are observed. Non-observance of the Language Act may result in warnings or written orders, depending on the supervisory actions and the extent of the non-observance, and also fines can be issued based on the principles of the Administrative Procedures and Misdemeanors Procedures legal acts.