Changes to the System as Slovenian Schools Start a New Year (Feature)

By , 03 Sep 2018, 09:09 AM Lifestyle
First day at school First day at school Flickr - Thomas Kriese CC by 2.0

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STA, 3 September - With the two-month summer break having ended, some 73,200 secondary school students and 184,169 primary school children are back at school, of whom almost 21,880 for the first time. Both children and teachers are in for a plenty of changes. 

Curious about the education system in Slovenia? What an official video explaining all levels here

The number of first-graders is approximately on a par with the previous academic year (21,850), but their number continues to fall.

Before the 2017/18 school year, the population of first-graders was growing, peaking at over 22,150 in 2016/2017.

Teachers are expected to shortly enter talks on their workload, and as soon as the new government takes over, a new round of pay talks, frozen in March, is expected.

The powerful SVIZ trade union demands higher pay, higher holiday allowance for those on the minimum or even lower wage, and proper payment for form teachers.

The biggest changes are expected in primary schools affecting the after-school hours - when classes for the day are over but children are still at school, which in practice means more classes.

As part of the project, the 125 primary schools taking part, or a third of all schools, will give children a chance to go to additional gym classes.

However, 19 of these schools will be implementing the project at full scale, so first-graders and seventh-graders will be able to choose to learn a first foreign language and a second foreign language, respectively.

Meanwhile, teachers' working hours will have to be planned more carefully, so that they do not work more or less than 40 hours a week, which has not been the case so far.

The idea is that no teacher has a surplus or lack of hours worked at the end of the school year, but some schools are reporting problems in introducing a new system.

In secondary schools, the biggest changes come for students who turn 18, or more precisely their parents.

The parents of a student who is no longer a minor will need their child's consent to see their grades or acquire any other information related to schooling.

The 18-year-olds will also be able to write a letter of excuse for being absent from school themselves, while this has been so far in their parents' domain.

The move has raised some eyebrows, but education authorities argue that once a person comes of age they are fully responsible for themselves, so why shouldn’t they be in charge of their school affairs.

Some secondary schools will introduce new courses and several will launch new vocational studies based on apprenticeship, such as stonemason, carpenter or a hospitality worker.

As has been the case for some time now, there will be four week-long breaks: at the end of October, around Christmas, a winter break in February and another around May Day.

Delivering a message ahead of the first school day, Education Minister Maja Makovec Brenčič highlighted education as "one of the key pillars of Slovenian society".

Addressing school children, she wished them to be listened to and answered all their questions, and for teachers to encourage their desire for knowledge.

Turning to teachers, the outgoing minister stressed their responsibility to broaden children's horizons, saying it was not always easy to meet the high expectations.

She praised them as "good teachers and educators", saying Slovenian school was of good quality and strong because of them.

A message was also delivered by Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore, urging children to talk with their parents about what they learn and parents to listen to them.

He also said that grades should not be the sole criterion of success, stressing it was important to learn what is good and bad, just and unjust.

The church dignitary also called on teachers "to be more than just an educational system" to become "a true authority which helps children grow".

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