The summer holidays are almost over, and next week children will be going back to school in Slovenia, with some feeling relieved, others tentative and afraid of the new, much like their parents.
To put things in some context we visited the excellent Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SURS), to get the numbers on schoolchildren in Slovenia. Note that, unless otherwise stated, all figures are for the 2018/19 academic year.
Elementary schools and class sizes in Slovenia
Last year 21,945 children entered the first grade of primary school, with this generally happening when the child is 6 years old, although in September 2018 10% of new pupils were aged 7, a significant rise from the 6% seen five years before. Just under a fifth (19.8%) of such 7-year olds have special needs, and most of the others were born in November or December, and thus would have been among the youngest in their classes if joining aged 6.
In total, 186,328 children were enrolled in elementary schools in Slovenia in 2018/19, a rise of around 5,000 on the year before, and up significantly from 2010/11, when just 161,046 children where in such classes.
The average elementary school class had 19 pupils in 2018/19, with the lowest average number found in the Koroška statistical region (16) and the highest in the Osrednjeslovenska statistical region (21.5).
Slovenia's changing population mix, 1971 to 2061. Children born 10-15 years ago are part of a smaller cohort than those born more recently. For example, in 2018/19 there were 22,000 first graders (starting age of 6) compared to 17,751 ninth-graders (starting age 15). However, birth rates have been declining again, and in coming years the size of first grade classes will start shrinking. More details on demographics in Slovenia here
Secondary schools in Slovenia – general, vocational and technical
The number of children entering upper secondary school pupils has been falling, with the 73,110 pupils attending in 2018/19 being some 5,000 fewer than five years before, although SURS expects this trend to reverse next week as a large cohort of 15-year-olds will enter the system. Most first-year students were taking the classes for the first time, with just over 4% needing to repeat the year or having changed their study programmes.
General programmes saw 35% of all upper secondary school pupils in Slovenia in 2018/19, 61% of these girls. In contrast, 46.2% of all pupils were enrolled in technical programme, and 47% of these were girls, while and 18% of all pupils were in vocational education (30% of them girls). Over the last 8 years the share or students going to vocational and technical schools has increased by 5%
Seventy-four percent of male pupils are in technical and vocational schools, especially in technical fields (39% of all male pupils) and computing (11%). In contrast,, 56% of female pupils are in technical and vocational programmes, with the focuses being personal services (13% of all female pupils), health (12%) and business and administration (10%).
An overview of the education system in Slovenia
The following video, produced in 2017 and published by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (Ministrstvo za izobraževanje, znanost in šport) introduces the education system in Slovenia, from pre-school to university.