STA, 6 October - Vaccination against the flu will be free of charge for all Slovenian residents with health insurance this season after it was already free last season, the Health Ministry has told the STA. The National Institute of Public Health has ordered 360,000 doses of the vaccine.
The order exceeds the 290,000 doses available last year, when there was an exceptional interest in vaccination because it was strongly encouraged by health authorities. This was to prevent a collapse of healthcare in the event of major complications stemming from flu as the Covid-19 epidemic was gaining momentum.
For the 2020/2021 season, the authorities initially selected several vulnerable groups to qualify for free-of-charge flu vaccination, but expanded eligibility too all holders of health insurance, based on a provision from a coronavirus relief legislation.
Since the legislation is valid until the end of 2021, flu vaccination, which usually starts in the second half of October, will also be free of charge for all this season.
The flu season was rather atypical in 2020/21 with practically no case confirmed in the country, largely as a result of a lengthy school lockdown and other preventive coronavirus measures. However, a rise in respiratory diseases in children this autumn shows the coming virus season could be different.
STA, 4 October 2021 - The first monitoring of wild bees in 2021 did not yield encouraging results, with the bumblebees count dropping five-fold compared to last year. "This is bad news for both agriculture and nature, as bumblebees are among the most important pollinators," the National Institute of Biology (NIB) said on Monday.
The most likely explanation for the decline was the exceptionally bad spring weather, said NIB, pointing out that research on pollinators in orchards showed that bumblebee numbers in spring, when fruit trees were flowering, were similar to previous years.
This means that the queen bumblebees overwintered successfully, but probably due to bad weather, frost and prolonged rain, they did not get enough food to nest successfully.
An additional problem in the decline of bumblebees is that their role as pollinators is particularly important in bad weather, as they are "known to pollinate even in the rain, cold and wind".
NIB said that bees have also faced similar problems, but they could survive adverse conditions more easily, thanks to the help of beekeepers.
"While fluctuations in animal populations, including bumblebees, are normal in nature, such a large decline in one year is worrying".
"Climate change, or weather extremes such as early springs followed by frosts and prolonged summer droughts, are destroying pollinators' food resources," the researchers warned.
In addition to the Carniolan honeybee, Slovenia is also home to over 500 species of wild bees, while other wild pollinators include flies, butterflies, some beetles and wasps.
According to NIB, the role of wild pollinators is very important in nature, while they also contribute significantly to pollination in agriculture, the value of which is estimated at EUR 120 million a year.
The monitoring of wild bees is a three-year pilot project that started last year and is being carried out at a total of 50 sampling sites across Slovenia.
The project is led by NIB, organised in cooperation with Slovenia's Natural History Museum and the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. The funding is provided by the Slovenian Research Agency, the Environment Ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture.
STA, 4 October 2021 - More women than men work in education-related professions in Slovenia and the situation is getting more imbalanced still. Ahead of World Teachers' Day, Statistics Office data show that the higher the level of education, the less disproportionate the share.
The number of women in education is increasing - in the 2020-2021 academic year the figure rose by 7% compared to four years ago.
The share of women working in kindergartens is 97%, in primary school 88% and in secondary school 66%.
In the latest school year, there were almost 19,500 primary school teachers, up by 1% year-on-year, as the number of pupils also increased to some 193,160. The ratio of teaching staff per pupils was 1:10.
Nearly 6,340 teachers taught in secondary schools in the 2020-2021 academic year, also slightly up compared to the previous year as the total of students also rose. The ratio of teaching staff per students was 1:10.
Meanwhile, tertiary education is slightly more of a domain of men as the share of male experts working at tertiary education institution is 53%.
In total, 5,669 experts worked there in the previous academic year, down by almost 2% year-on-year. Most of them had PhDs - 82% among the men and 72% among the women.
The situation in education-related professions is likely to remain gender-imbalanced as more female students than the male were enrolled in teacher education programmes in the past academic year (87%).
Overall, most teachers in the 2020-2021 school year belonged to the 30-49 age group (57%).
Public spending on education in 2019 totalled EUR 2.38 million or 4.9% of GDP, up on 2018. The largest share of these funds was allocated for primary education.
STA, 1 October 2021 - A study by a group of researchers at the Jožef Stefan Institute (Institut "Jožef Stefan" – IJS) determined the content of drugs in wastewater samples from Slovenian educational institutions. The results showed that nicotine, alcohol and cannabis were the most prevalent drugs, while residues of morphine, codeine and cocaine were detected as well.
Researchers from the Environmental Sciences Division of the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) used samples of wastewater from Slovenian primary and secondary schools and higher education institutions to carry out their study.
It aimed to determine the presence of metabolic products of legal drugs (nicotine and alcohol), abused drugs (morphine, codeine and methadone) and illegal drugs (cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and heroin), the IJS said in a press release.
The study covered 44 educational institutions offering different levels of education, selected from both urban and non-urban areas in 7 Slovenian municipalities across 6 statistical regions.
The results on drug prevalence were compared by education level, geographical location and the level of urbanisation.
The survey shows that nicotine, alcohol and cannabis are the most widely used drugs overall, with alcohol and cannabis having comparable prevalence despite the difference in availability.
Among the abused drugs, researchers identified biomarkers for morphine and codeine, while methadone biomarkers were below the limit of detection. Among stimulants, cocaine was the most prevalent.
Nicotine, alcohol, cannabis and cocaine were present in wastewater samples from educational institutions in all seven municipalities.
Meanwhile, biomarkers for all target drugs (except methadone and heroin) were identified only in Ljubljana, the study shows.
The study also showed a correlation between cocaine use/availability and urbanisation, while simultaneous use of alcohol and cocaine was only determined in samples from urban areas.
As explained by the IJS, the results indicate the presence of drugs that were not necessarily ingested in educational institutions, as the metabolic products of drugs take longer to be excreted in the urine.
In addition, the school environment is not only comprised of students, but also teachers, support staff and visitors, who may also contribute to the occurrence of certain biomarkers in wastewater, said the IJS.
STA, 4 October 2021 - The national earthquake response drill #SIQUAKE2020 got under way on Monday in the Ljubljana area. The goal is to check the country's preparedness to a major earthquake in central Slovenia. Until Friday about 500 rescuers will take part in the drill at 12 locations.
Rescuers, members of the civil protection and disaster relief, its regional units, bodies and services, NGOs active in civil protection and disaster relief specialising in earthquakes as well as specialised units from Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary will take part in the drill in Ljubljana, Logatec, Vrhnika and Ig, with activities planned during the day and during the night.
In line with the earthquake scenario, other countries would respond to Slovenia's request for international aid.
As part of the drill, participants will assess the damage on buildings, set priorities, practice search and rescue skills, and stabilise damaged buildings.
They will provide emergency aid and set up temporary shelters for the people. About 150 people will participate as the injured, simulating mild and severe injuries.
According to the head of the firefighters' training programme, Aleš Cedilnik, the purpose of the drill is to check the solutions from the national plan, the civil protection and disaster relief plan for earthquake, and the readiness for action in case of an earthquake at the national, regional and municipal levels, and at the level of institutions and NGOs.
On Thursday, European Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič will be on a working visit to Slovenia to take part in the drill.
The Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief organised the drill in consortium with partners from the Ljubljana city municipality, Germany, Croatia and Italy and the support of the EU mechanism for civil protection in 2019-2021.
The SIQUAKE2020 project has been under way since 2019 with the support of the EU's mechanism for civil protection. It includes various activities and events such as drills, workshops and training for different types of rescuing at different levels.
STA, 2 October 2021 - The 27th City of Women, a festival of contemporary art, will focus on community art projects, celebration of women's accomplishments and a reflection on the school system. The festival open on Saturday with a performance by Dr Xenia.
The festival focusing on women performers and collectives and running until 18 October will present 130 artists across three programme sections.
The opening section, Hand in Hand, will present community art projects and the strengthening of social ties during the pandemic and the tense political situation.
The opening event will be held at the Alkatraz Gallery and feature a performance by Dr Xenia, a collective entity, entitled The Fourth Corner: Rights for Our Fights.
Another highlight in this section will be the Atlas Collective, which brings together fifteen artists, critical thinkers and cultural workers from Belgium, who will present their exploration of participative practices in Slovenia.
As part of a European project Be Part, an international debate will be held at the Stara Elektrarna (Old Power Station) venue about fair relations and working conditions in the art world.
Dutch platform for dialogue art Building Conversations will be presented, accompanied by several workshops.
The second section, Collective Memory, will celebrate woman's achievements.
In collaboration with the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television, an event entitled I Want to Conquer the World 2.1 - Actress on the Crossroads of Cultures, will pay tribute to Barbara Sušec Michieli, a professor at the academy who died ten years ago.
The Kindovor cinema will offer a rich programme, including a poetic migrant odyssey by Italian director Loredana Bianconi Of Gates and of Deserts, and Glory to the Queen! by Tatia Skhirtladze, a film about four Georgian chess grandmasters.
The third section, The School We Want, will offer a reflection on the curriculum and a shadow curriculum, the festival organisers say.
Annette Kraus will present her Hidden Curriculum project at the Škuc Gallery, showing how secondary school students perceive and explore the hidden curriculum.
The concept of school will also be explored in a project in which the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre cooperated with secondary school students in staging a play entitled Everything Is Alright.
The show will be followed by a discussion with its makers and accompanied by a debate on school and kindergarten.
Several other different shows will be held outside the three sections.
Aleksandra Bajde will present her scenic musical work Self-Portraits in Imaginary Places and Fabrice Murgia a pop opera Sylvia, presenting the story of famous American author Sylvia Plath at the Cankarjev Dom arts centre.
Among the Slovenian performances the organisers highlighted Us Witches by Simona Semenič and the Slovenian premiere of Castration by Glass Illka.
STA, 1 October 2021 - The beginning of October marks the start of a new academic year, once more impacted by Covid-19, as in-person lectures, seminars and exams being reserved for those meeting the recovered-tested-vaccinated rule. There will be no traditional university welcome for new students either.
In line with the guidelines of the Education Ministry and the National Institute of Public Health, which higher education institutions also helped form, lectures will take place at faculties, subject to the recovered-vaccinated-tested condition.
For staff and students, weekly self-testing at their respective institutions will be sufficient to meet the testing requirement.
However, if the situation deteriorates, universities will have the autonomy to impose additional measures.
The tests will be free of charge for students and can be obtained from any pharmacy on presentation of an ID, an enrolment certificate and a health insurance card. For foreign students, the first two will be sufficient.
Students who work in addition to their studies will also be obliged to self-test with the employer they work for, while students on clinical training in healthcare are subject to the same self-testing conditions as other students.
Meanwhile, the enrolment process is still ongoing at the universities of Ljubljana, Maribor, Primorska and Nova Gorica.
The universities and other higher education institutions have offered 18,520 places for the 2021/2022 academic year, with 11,890 new students admitted in the first enrolment period.
A new dental medicine study programme is opening in Maribor this academic year, while the number of places has been increased at both medical faculties, in Ljubljana and Maribor, at the Faculty of Computer Science in Ljubljana and at the Faculty of Education in Primorska.
The number of foreign students continues to rise, having more than doubled in the last four years to 11%. Most foreign students study at the university in Ljubljana.
The final data on the number of students studying at Slovenian universities this academic year will be announced in October, as the second application and enrolment period runs until 30 September.
Due to epidemiological measures, mass events for welcoming newcomers traditionally organised by universities and student organisations will not take place.
The new chancellor of the University of Ljubljana, Gregor Majdič, will only address the new students at the Freshmen Welcome event remotely, via video-link.
Majdič, who was recently elected chancellor of Slovenia's largest and oldest university for the 2021-2025 term, believes the social role of the university needs to be strengthened, along with cooperation between faculties and with research institutes, and that the society's confidence in knowledge and science needs to be restored.
"In autumn, the first challenge will be to carry out the study process safely. More than 85% of University of Ljubljana staff have been vaccinated, which is something we are very proud of," he said.
"It is certainly our wish and our intention that the study process this academic year takes place at the faculties, with direct contact between professors and students," Majdič added.
Despite the lack of welcome events, students will be briefly introduced at the start of the year to a whole range of possible activities to stay healthy, entertained or gain additional knowledge, experience and other useful information.
STA, 1 October 2021 - Slovenia has become an attractive studying environment for foreign students, judging by the growth in their numbers, a trend recorded at all Slovenian universities. While foreign students represented 4.5% of all students in the 2017/2018 academic year, they accounted for 11% of a total of some 65,000 students in the 2020/2021.
Most students from abroad study at the University of Ljubljana, which is the oldest and largest Slovenian university, with some 40,600 students.
The number of foreign students at the university rose from 2,476 in 2017/18 to 3,653 in 2020/21, which makes foreigners account for 9% of all its students.
At the University of Maribor, the country's second oldest and second largest, the figure was up almost 24% in the 2020/21 academic year 1,463 from 2019/20.
This was 10.5% all the 13,950 university students that studied in Maribor the last academic year.
However, it was the University of Primorska which enrolled the most foreign students in relation to the total number of its students in the last academic year.
The share stood at 12% in the 2017/18 academic year, but rose to 15.5% in 2020/21.
Education Ministry data shows that in 2020/21, 7,681 students from outside Slovenia studied in Slovenia: 2,154 from the EU and 5,527 from third countries.
Foreign students studying here that year came from 121 countries, the majority from Europe, up from 93 in 2016.
Most students from other European countries are from the countries which emerged in the area of the former Yugoslavia - Serbia, North Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.
STA, 30 September 2021 - The torrential rainfall that hit the capital last night caused significant damage to the SNG Drama Ljubljana, the country's leading theatre, and the Moderna Galerija, the national museum of modern and contemporary art. Both are closed until further notice. The damage caused is yet to be estimated.
Water started pouring in through the roof of SNG Drama last night just as a play was being staged, the theatre's spokesman Jernej Pristov told the STA.
The water flowed in streams to the stage and backstage, so the show had to be interrupted, the audience evacuated and electricity shut off.
"The water was flowing in the hallways, got in to the upper and lower boxes, into the Šugman lounge and the coffee shop. A lot of it was caught near the box office, where it flooded computer equipment as well," said Pristov.
Luckily, the lights and other computer equipment were not damaged, he said.
The theatre has already had problems with water coming into the lower parts of the building, and with dampness.
Pristov said that they had acted quickly to prevent mould. Since this morning, dehumidifiers are being used to suck out the dampness.
As repair work is under way, the shows scheduled for tonight and tomorrow evening have been cancelled and there are also no rehearsals in the building today.
At Moderna Galerija, the right wing of the building was particularly affected, where an exhibition of Pablo Picasso's illustrations was to open today.
With much effort the art works were protected and removed from the rooms on time, the museum said in a press release.
"The building currently does not allow for the exhibition to be set up again," it added.
The water also poured into depositories, so firefighters helped staff in their efforts to save the art pieces. Most of the works were rescued.
Since the building's roof, rooms and electric wiring were damaged, the museum is temporarily closed. The extent of the damage will be estimated in the coming days.
All art pieces that have been exposed to flooding will also be carefully examined, the museum said.
STA, 30 September 2021 - Record rains that pummelled the capital Ljubljana and eastern Slovenia on Wednesday night caused extensive flooding, with basements flooded in hundreds of residential, industrial and educational buildings.
In just one hour one weather station in Ljubljana recorded 94 millimetres of rain, the highest ever recorded in the capital and in what the Environment Agency has described on Twitter as a "once in two centuries event".
Goričko in the east received a similar amount of rainfall.
The Ljubljana emergency call centre alone received over 2,700 calls for assistance and flooding was reported in over 500 buildings around the city.
Several schools were flooded, as was the SNG Drama theatre in the centre of the city and multiple industrial buildings.
Na Sotinskem bregu in v Ljubljani včeraj popoldne oziroma zvečer rekorden naliv. Na Sotinskem bregu je postaja izmerila 58 mm v 30 minutah in 76 mm v 60 minutah. 15-letni rekord je doslej znašal "le" 34 oziroma 37 mm. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/dyvMqDRdEU— ARSO vreme (@meteoSI) September 30, 2021
Firefighters had to intervene more than 300 times in Ljubljana alone.
In eastern Slovenia buildings were flooded in Beltinci, Cankova, Lendava, Celje, Laško, Ljutomer, Murska Sobota, Odranci, Puconci and Rogašovci.
There have been no report of casualties.
STA, 22 September 2021 - The National Assembly have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bill that seeks to better protect pet, increase their well-being and enhance the responsibility of their owners. The amendments to the animal protection act were backed on Wednesday in an 87:1 vote.
Presenting the new legislation, Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek said on Tuesday the solutions took into consideration the opinion of the parliamentary majority and various NGOs.
It will be prohibited to tether dogs, except in specific situations such as in the case of guard dogs at farms. Electric collars are being outlawed as well.
Guard dogs at farms will be allowed to be kept on a lead at least five metres long that will allow the dog to move around at least four metres in each direction.
The latter solution will need to be implemented by 1 January 2024.
It will also be prohibited to kill healthy abandoned pets in shelters after 30 days or kill them for their skin. Fur or leather farming has been banned in Slovenia since 2013.
One of the changes is more detailed procedure to trace the origin of dogs to prevent and curb trading in dogs and illicit trade.
It will be mandatory to chip puppies up to the age of eight weeks, and it will be obligatory to state the chip number in sale advertisements.
Chipping of cats will be voluntary to allow owners to prove their ownership.
The new law also provides more detailed provisions governing dangerous dogs and use of shepherd dogs to protect pasturing herds.
In case of a violation, the first measure against the owner will be to subject them to basic training on how to keep a pet.
In case of attacks by wild animals, the dog will not be considered dangerous if it attacks a human in a minor incident.
However, when the dog is found to be dangerous, an appeal will not stay the implementation of the decision.
The amendments also restrict possession of exotic species to protect the life, health and well-being of animals and people's lives and health and to preserve wildlife.
The cost of care for abandoned animals will be covered by municipalities the first 30 days, then by the owner of the shelter, and from day 120 on, by the state.
In the debate, deputy factions largely lauded the solutions as good and effective, although several MPs noted the important thing would be how owners care for their pets and animals in practice.
Some of the issues highlighted were a lack of oversight and understaffed inspection services, a lack of provisions on pet care in urban areas, as well as a call for improvements for animals reared for food.