STA, 2 September 2019 - Among the many primary and secondary schools children can go to in Slovenia, there are also several international schools, which are mostly intended for foreigners. Interest in them has been growing, also among Slovenian children, so this year they will have 600 students.
There are three private international schools: the British International School of Ljubljana, the American QSI International School and France's Ecole Francaise Ljubljana.
They teach curricula from the countries of their origin, at the same time offering curricula taught within the global network of international schools.
The three schools had some 400 students in the 2018/19 school year, according to data provided by the British school.
But there are also several Slovenian public schools offering internationally-compatible courses.
One of them is Danila Kumar Primary School in Ljubljana, which has launched an international department upon the initiative from foreign diplomats and business executives.
Since its first year, 2007/2008, the number of its students has grown from 50 to around 200.
"The figure changes since children get enrolled and leave throughout the year. They are 3 to 15 years old," says Irena Šteblaj, head of the primary school's international department.
She has told the STA they generally accept foreign citizens, while Slovenian students are admitted if they have already studied abroad and intend to go abroad again.
Our Danila Kumar International School usually has children of 36 to 40 different nationalities, says Šteblaj.
She admits some may have problems when they continue schooling at secondary school because of a language barrier.
"Although they study Slovenian two hours a week here, they don't learn it as well as if they went to a Slovenian school."
Three Slovenian secondary schools also offer an international school-leaving exam - known in Slovenian as "matura".
These are Gimnazija Bežigrad in Ljubljana and II. Gimnazija in Maribor, and since last year also Gimnazija in Kranj.
In Maribor, the two-year programme which prepares students in the last two years for the matura exam has been available since 1990.
To qualify for such such a programme, students must have good grades, an average of at least 4 on Slovenia's 1-to-5 scale.
"Classes are held in English, but students also have to attend lessons in their own mother tongue," says II. Gimnazija Maribor headteacher Ivan Lorenčič.
This year 22 Slovenian and 10 foreign students passed the international matura exam at this secondary school.
If they pass the exam, they can continue their studies at any university in Slovenia or abroad.
"But the majority, as many as 60-70%, decide to go abroad, to study mostly science such as chemistry, microbiology, biology and similar," says Lorenčič.
He is proud to say that the students passing the international mature exam at Slovenian secondary schools are at the top of more than 1,300 such schools worldwide.
"This is a result of hard work," he believes.
Meanwhile, a school for children whose parents work for EU institutions was launched in Ljubljana last school year.
In the first year, ten children were enrolled in grades 1 and 2 at the Ljubljana European School, which was founded by the government.
Children can choose between a programme taught in English or Slovenian, which according to headmaster Darinka Cankar depends on the dominant language spoken in their families.
Children also have the option of their mother tongue classes, which means that in 2019/20 the school will also teach French, German, Spanish and Lithuanian.
Forty-six children will attend it this year, the majority of whom are foreign citizens.
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