Abstract: After the restoration of independence in 1991, Estonia continued with a parallel school system with separate public schools operating for Russian- and Estonian-speaking children. Seen as a developmental ‘growing pains’ of a transitional state, during the last 27 years the separate school system has contributed to infrastructural difficulties, educational injustice, and societal segregation. This article investigates the role of private schools in addressing this injustice from the analytical angle of new institutionalism, structuration and intergroup contact theories. How do these institutions challenge and aim at changing the state language regime or path dependency in the language of education? Two case studies are presented in this article: The Open School, established in 2017 for children with different home language backgrounds and targeting trilingual competences; The Sakala Private School, established in 2009, offering trilingual education with Russian as a medium of instruction. During this period of nation-state rebuilding and globalization, we investigate whether developing a multilingual habitus is a way to address the issue of social cohesion in the Estonian society in. So far, no other studies of private initiatives in Estonian language acquisition planning have been done.
Keywords: democratization; Estonia; integrated school; language acquisition planning; multilingual habitus; social inclusion