Yesterday, governmental eyes beheld the final report on integration plan 2008–2013. One, for some reason, is reminded of this story of a grown guy who wets his bed. A friend says why don’t you go see a psychologist? In a couple of months they meet again. Friend asks bedwetter how he’s doing. «Excellent,» he says. «Wetting the bed no more?» asks the friend. «I do, but I’m no longer concerned about it,» says the other.
The percentage of such (both among Estonians and the others) as deem the options of various nationalities as equal has increased. Also improved is the families’ perception of their wellbeing among various nationalities. Meanwhile, as compared to 2007, the gap has widened between Estonians and others regarding employment and income.
Let’s hold the irony, however – for several reasons. Firstly, perception of equal opportunities does not concern economic wellbeing only, at a given instance. It encompasses lots of important stuff, from everyday issues to involvement in top politics. Secondly, cultural integration and increased tolerance is, among other things, also a prerequisite to economic integration. It lessens discrimination, and believing in one’s options is also a factor for future success – if you believe you can succeed, you get bolder trying. Meanwhile, let’s not automatically assume that cultural changes will immediately show in socio-economical statistics.
People being convinced that Estonian legal system makes no difference between nationalities, and that anyone may succeed if he tries – this is very important. Also very important that the Soviet occupation bred prejudices are easing off (despite the Friendship of Nations, what they actually did was whip up hatred).
Still, there are several reasons to feel troubled. Cultural and socio-economic developments are interrelated, the most long-term of these being the quality difference in education provided at schools with Estonian and Russian languages of instruction. As for the Russian language schools, the teachers have basically had their own way (trying to avoid conflicts?). Meanwhile, Estonian language schools have been constantly forced to change. Sadly or fortunately, by now the differences are so glaringly obvious that the wakeful among Russian school teachers are getting the point.
In the short view, low oil price is hitting our oil shale industry in Ida-Viru County. Also, the crash of the Russian economy robs our local Russians from the edge of working for Eastern neighbour market. Add these two together, and the nationality-measured socio-economic gap will rather widen short-term.
The long-term solution, however, is (paradoxically?) in that selfsame integration.