STA, 22 June 2020 - The Education Ministry is working on a number of possible scenarios for schooling regime in the next school year, Minister Simona Kustec told the press on Monday, saying everything would depend on the epidemiological situation. But school will definitely start on 1 September, she stressed.
Addressing the press after the first hundred days in office, the minister of education, science and sport said that active and intensive preparations for autumn were under way.
"We don't yet know what the epidemiological situation will be then but we must not be caught off guard," she stressed, noting that the models of education the ministry was working on were being formed based on experience gathered in the hundred days of remote learning.
The goal is to have as much schooling as possible conducted at school, Kustec said, noting that the final details were being ironed out regarding the possible models of schooling.
School principals were informed of this today, while a detailed presentation of the models will be sent to them at the beginning of July.
The decision on how school will actually start in September will be made in the last week of August, she said.
According to Radio Slovenia, the ministry is also working on a model envisaging a combination of remote learning and education at school for secondary schools under which a group of students would go to school for a certain period of time, while the other group would study from home, and then they would switch.
Most secondary school students finished this school year from home because of restrictions in public transport and student dorms, and it is assumed that those restrictions would remain in place in the autumn as well.
Kustec said the period between 16 March, when schools were closed, and 18 May, when the first three grades of primary schools returned to school, had been most "unusual".
But despite the peculiar circumstances, pupils and students will finish the year by meeting their obligations. "This process was a great challenge and we were successful because we joined forces, and together we understood what needs to be done and how to keep our lives going," she said.
Kustec and President Borut Pahor thanked everyone involved for their efforts in a video address on Sunday, with the president saying that this experience would be a story to tell children and grandchildren.
Looking into the future, Pahor said that undoubtedly new technologies would be even more important in the learning process than they were now. "But there is also no doubt that in the future school, teachers and learning will be more than just that."
He said school was also friends and crushes, teachers who guide their students, and parents and family members, who celebrate their successes and stand by their side in difficult times.
Kustec noted that EUR 18.8 million had been allocated to those affected by the coronavirus crisis in education as part of the three government-sponsored stimulus packages. Eight millions were spent on student bonuses, and another eight to help teachers in private and public kindergartens, student dorms and those employed in sport, she said.
Four days after the epidemic was declared on 12 March, 190.156 primary school children and 72,783 secondary school students switched to remote learning in Slovenia. After more than two months, the first three grades of primary schools returned to school on 18 May. Ninth-graders followed a week later and the remaining primary school children returned to school at the beginning of the month.
STA, 8 June 2020 - Three coalition parties have filed legislative changes under which children who skipped mandatory vaccinations could not be enrolled in publicly-funded kindergartens and schools, while those without all mandatory shots could not work in health care or care homes or study and train for these professions.
Secondary schools and universities, not only in health but also in education, would not be allowed to admit students who have not had all their shots, under the proposed changes to the changes to the communicable diseases act.
The changes would allow medical exceptions for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. In Slovenia, vaccinations against measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis and hepatitis B are mandatory.
Proposed by 38 MPs of the Modern Centre Party (SDS), the Democratic Party (SDS) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), the changes would prohibit those who had not received these vaccines from working with patients in health care and care homes.
Moreover, health workers and care home staff would also have to get flu shots every year, the cost of which would be covered by the Health Insurance Institute.
The changes also stipulate fines for legal entities, meaning health institutions, care homes, kindergartens and schools, found in breach of the provisions to the tune of between EUR 400 and EUR 40,000.
The sponsors want to fast-track the legislation through parliament.
A similar bill was proposed by the Modern Centre Party (SMC) in late February just as a non-parliamentary party submitted to parliament a proposal to abolish mandatory vaccination altogether.
STA, 14 April 2020 - Education Minister Simona Kustec, who participated in a videocall EU ministerial on Tuesday, is not yet able to say when kindergartens and school in Slovenia could reopen. But she announced the decision on whether to hold nation-wide primary school exams for sixth and ninth grade students would be taken this Friday.
The ministerial showed countries hold very different views on when to reopen schools, with some, including the gravely affected Spain, arguing in favour of starting already at the beginning of May, Kustec told the Slovenian press.
The minister was not yet able to say when this could happen in Slovenia, stressing it would depend on an expert assessment that this could be done safely.
Kustec, who added EU ministers were united in the view that performance grading needed to be kind and motivating in the current circumstances, announced Friday would bring a decision on whether to hold the nation-wide exams in Slovenia for sixth and ninth grade primary school children, which are usually held in May.
A decision has already been made in favour of holding the secondary school-leaving exams, although probably later than originally scheduled, meaning not before June.
Meanwhile, during today's ministerial, Kustec placed special attention on the need for equality when organising remote schooling during the pandemic. She highlighted Slovenia's positive experience with donations that allowed computers and other necessary equipment to be provided for all pupils.
All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 14 April 2020 - A group of companies and employer organisations have raised more than 250 computers and tablets to enable disadvantaged students to participate in remote learning, said AmCham Slovenija on Tuesday.
The campaign, titled Solidarity Together, has been coordinated by AmCham Slovenija in cooperation with the Education Ministry and the National Education Institute.
Apart from the American-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce, the campaign also included the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), Managers' Association, Slovenian Business Club (SBC) and British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce.
The organisations' members have provided equipment enabling distant learning during the epidemic for students most in need of assistance, said AmCham, adding that the donated devices would also help the students keep in touch with their peers.
The most generous contributors included brewer Pivovarna Laško Union, telecoms operator Telemach, app developer Outfit7, IT company Oracle Slovenija and HP Computing and Printing, added AmCham.
Chairman of Telemach Adrian Ježina said that the company had donated tablets and internet access to 90 children and their families.
Meanwhile, Pivovarna Laško Union corporate affairs director, Tanja Subotić Levanič, said that the brewer had equipped 40 children with tablets as well as donated additional 15 devices needed for distant learning to hospital schools.
Moreover, Outfit7 has raised EUR 5,500 for the cause, according to AmCham.
STA, 7 April 2020 - More than five years after deciding the state must provide equal funding for public and private primary schools, the Constitutional Court has specified that this applies only to the mandatory part of school curricula at private schools but not to non-mandatory curricula, such as morning and afternoon care, or remedial tutoring.
Announcing its decision on Tuesday, the court said that legislation stipulating that non-mandatory curricula at private schools get 85% of the funds provided for public schools was not unconstitutional.
The right to free primary education only applies to the mandatory curricula, which pupils in all primary schools must complete in order to finish school, the court said in the decision adopted on 12 March.
The state is obligated to allow a choice of different types of education, but it is not obligated to fund all the different types of education, the judges said.
They moreover said that private schools were not in the same legal position as public schools, because public schools must accept all pupils applying, while private schools do not.
The decision was the product of deliberations of several requests filed by parents of children attending private primary schools.
The decision was passed in a 6:1 vote, while two judges were recused. Judge Marijan Pavčnik meanwhile issued a dissenting opinion.
The nine-member court also criticised the National Assembly for failing to enact the court's late-2014 decision on the funding of private primary schools in a one-year period.
However, this has proven impossible, because the left-leaning parties opted to interpret the 2014 ruling in a way that could lead to a full scrapping of state funding of non-mandatory curricula, while the right-leaning ones want full state funding for private primary schools.
Although it believes parliament has violated the principles of the rule of law by failing to enact the court's decision, the court rejected the parents' request to define the manner in which the 2014 decision be implemented, meaning setting down the share of state funding for private school curricula.
Under the legislation still in place, the state provides 85% of funds for private primary school curricula, both mandatory and non-mandatory, as opposed to 100% for public schools.
Responses from political parties have been mixed. The senior coalition Democrats (SDS) believe the decision opens new questions. The party wonders why the court left out other curriculum activities, such as optional courses and activities, while expressly mentioning only morning and afternoon care, and remedial tutoring.
The Modern Centre Party (SMC) is happy with the decision, saying it reflected its position on funding, while the conservative New Slovenia (NSi) welcomed the decision for being a step closer to equal funding for all schools.
The opposition parties meanwhile welcomed the decision because they understand it as drawing a divide between public and private education. Former education minister and vice president of the Social Democrats (SD) Jernej Pikalo said the decision addressed existing unclarities and that it confirmed what the SD had been striving for all along.
The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) is also happy with the decision, while the Left said that the court only highlighted the decision it had already made in 2014. It believes that a solution would be to amend the Constitution so as to say that the state takes care of the public service, while private initiative is a matter of one's own responsibility.
While the Education Ministry told the STA it is yet to look into the decision, the Montessori private primary school in Ljubljana and a parents' civil initiative want the decision about 100% funding for mandatory curricula to be implemented as soon as possible.
Pavel Demšar, the headmaster of the Montessori school, said the decision announced today only confirmed the 2014 decision. He hopes the school's mandatory curricula will be fully funded as soon as possible, while saying that he needs more time to look into what the court said about non-mandatory curricula.
With most of the public institutions shut because of the COVID-19 epidemic, some of the cultural activities are now moving online, while others have relaxed their copyright protection a little.
Ljubljana Puppet Theatre
Since theatres closed their doors for the time being, Ljubljana Puppet Theatre decided to make videos of four of its most popular shows available online. Vihar v glavi and Romeo & Julija are appropriate for teens, Ti loviš! and Štiri črne mravljice for everyone from the age of 2 or 3 respectively. Videos are accessible from here.
There are several thousand e-books at Biblos available to borrow free of charge for anyone in possession of e-reader and a Slovenian library card. A total of 826 of them are in languages other than Slovene. Sign in using your library acronym and registration number (e.g. Mestna knjižnica Ljubljana: MKL123456) along with your library password.
Home schooling materials
The Slovenian Film Centre has made available a selection of Slovenian films, which will stay online for a week while the programme will change every Monday and Thursday. Films are not necessarily equipped with Slovenian or English subtitles, but can be found on this website with a click on the title of a movie.
Galleries and Museums
If you’d like to visit National Gallery, this is now possible with a virtual walk through its current exhibitions at the virtual gallery website.
For anyone interested in news related to February’s meteorite and other interesting natural science related stuff, you can follow Natural History Museum’s Facebook site.
TV- RTV SLO
National broadcaster has adapted its programmes to the fact that most people, children included, spend time in self-isolation at home. Programme can be viewed live from here, and the show’s archive is available here.
STA, 29 January 2020 - The number of students with special needs in primary and secondary schools in Slovenia has been rising in recent years. Almost 7% of primary school students and even more secondary school students have been formally recognised as having a disability that qualifies them for special treatment. Opinions on the reasons why this is so vary.
Data from the Education Ministry show that in the 2015/2016 school year, 5.91% of primary school students had an eligibility decision guaranteeing special treatment based on their disability; in this school year the share rose to 6.97%, which means 13,075 students.
A similar trend can been seen with secondary school students, where the ministry has been keeping records since 2010/2011. In the last decade, the share of special needs students almost doubled from 3.36% to 7.27% (5,331 students).
By far the largest share of eligibility decisions issued by the Education Institute, are for learning disabilities. For primary school students this share is at 40% and for secondary school students at over 50%.
These statistics have prompted the Education Ministry to open a debate on whether any changes are needed in the current system.
There have been questions as to whether there are indeed more children with special needs, or whether society has only become more sensitive to disabilities.
The head of the department for children with special needs at the Education Institute, Natalija Vovk Ornik, believes the answer is a little bit of both.
She thinks the reasons for the higher share of children with special needs could be medical progress, larger cohorts, the impact of the environment, or a number of other factors.
"One of the reasons is definitely that the diagnostic standards for recognising certain disabilities have changed, and the awareness of both experts and the public about disabilities in general has increased," she said.
She thinks the system is not being abused very often. But there are various types of "pressure" coming from parents as well as daycare centres and schools for a child to receive the eligibility decision and thus additional assistance, she said.
Janja Čolić, a teacher at the Janko Kersnik Brdo primary school, agrees. "Indeed, we are better at recognising children with special needs today. But on the other hand, it also happens that parents and teachers immediately think of additional assistance when a child is not performing well, rather than analysing potential causes in more detail.
"All too often parents are the initiators of additional assistance when they are not happy with their child's grades, as Cs and Ds are no longer acceptable grades in primary school," she said.
Meanwhile, an association bringing together representatives of school councils warns that parents are not to be blamed for the rise in the share of students with special needs.
They note that parents indeed have the right to initiate the procedure but that the final decision is made by a commission of experts and the Education Institute.
They believe the Education Ministry should conduct an independent analysis to determine whether the number of eligibility decisions is indeed too big and then determine why this is so.
They also propose several changes to the decision-making process, most notably uniform criteria.
The Education Institute agrees changes are needed. Vovk Ornik thinks the types of assistance that a child with special needs is entitled to should be determined by law. She also called for changes to the composition of the commission and the conditions for initiating the procedure.
According to a Statistical Office report, there were 75,991 students enrolled in tertiary education in 2018/19. This is 0.7% less than the year before and the ninth consecutive year in a row that saw a decline in number of students enrolled in higher education. Currently 34.2% fewer students are enrolled in higher education than ten years ago, when there were 115,445 college and university students studying in Slovenia.
While number of students enrolled in the 1st and 2nd Bologna cycles (Bachelors and Masters Programmes) is on decline, the number of doctoral students seems to be rising. Compared to the previous academic year, the number of enrolled students in the 3rd Bologna cycle rose from 2,824 to 3,089, or by 9.4%.
As for field of study, the largest group of students in the 2018/19 academic year were in study programs of engineering, manufacturing and construction (13,974 or 18.4%), followed by business, administration and law (13,784 or 18.1%), and health and social security (10,224 or 13.5 %). In contrast, the fewest students were enrolled in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinary medicine (2,320 or 3.1%) and information and communication technologies (3,842 or 5.1%).
For more information on this data, please click here.
STA, 18 December 2019 - The National Assembly passed on Wednesday a proposal tabled by the opposition Left introducing an extra day of paid leave for the parents of first-graders on their first school day. The law applies to both the private and public sectors.
The head of the Left deputy group, Matej T. Vatovec, said on Tuesday that public sector officials already have the right to paid leave on the first day of school of their first-graders, which puts those working in the private sector and their children in an unequal position.
Deputy groups agreed that this inequality should be done away with and backed the Left's proposal.
Karla Urh of the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) said the first school day was a stressful experience for a child, which was why children should be accompanied to school by their parents, regardless of where the latter were employed.
The coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the opposition Democrats (SDS) agreed this was an exceptional day for every child and parent.
There is no excuse for this discrimination between those working in the public and private sectors, they argued.
The opposition National Party (SNS) praised the proposal as "good or very good", while the coalition Social Democrats (SD) noted that schools even expected that children were escorted by their parents on the first day.
The coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) said the unanimous support was an "important indicator of an advanced society guaranteeing equal rights to all".
Aleksander Reberšek of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) regretted the fact that the proposal had not been backed by the Economic and Social Council (ESS), Slovenia's main industrial relations forum.
Mojca Žnidarič of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) said the social dialogue was "obviously" weakening and that the passage of the bill could be a dangerous precedent for passage of bills without a consent from social partners.
The ESS voiced objections to the proposal last week, saying that employees were free to take one day of leave whenever they want as it was and that parents of children of up to the age of 15 had one extra day of leave.
All our stories on education in Slovenia are here
STA, 9 December 2019 – The British business newspaper the Financial Times has ranked the University of Ljubljana's School of Economics and Business among the 95 best business schools in Europe for the second consecutive time [at 89]. The faculty sees this achievement as a recognition of its quality in the international arena.
The Financial Times has thus put Slovenia on the map of top-quality business education, said the Ljubljana-based faculty when it first made the cut.
The ranking requires having at least one of the top international accreditations - the AACSB and EQUIS-accredited Ljubljana school has both as well as the AMBA accreditation, while its International Master in Business programme has been ranked as one of the best business programmes.
The faculty pointed out that its students had at their disposal exchange programmes at five foreign business schools which had also made the grade, including French KEDGE, Norwegian BI, French Audencia, Portuguese ISCTE and French ESSCA.
The Ljubljana School of Economics and Business also hosts a PhD summer school programme along with the Swiss St. Gallen University business school, which traditionally ranks among top four schools according to the Financial Times. It also takes part in the EUTOPIA partnership of six European universities.
STA, 3 December 2019 - The University of Ljubljana, Slovenia's largest institution of higher learning, is celebrating its centenary with a series of events that culminated on Tuesday, the day exactly 100 years ago when the first lecture was delivered in the Slovenian language.
The university awarded out a doctorate to Kenneth Brian Frampton of Columbia University in New York today and will hold a special ceremony in the evening when it will receive the Order of Merit for Distinguished Service from President Borut Pahor.
The university started out with five founding members - the faculties of arts, medicine, law, technology and theology - after King Alexander signed a law establishing what was then the University of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in Ljubljana.
The first lecture was delivered in the building that remains the seat of the university to this day, the former Carniolan Provincial Court in the centre of Ljubljana, by the linguist Franc Ramovš and the topic was the historical grammar of the Slovenian language.
In the first academic year the university boasted almost a thousand students and by the start of the Second World War enrolment had increased to almost 2,500.
While male students far outnumbered women in the first years, the first person ever to get a doctorate was a woman, Ana Mayer, who received her PhD in chemistry in July 1920.
The university continued to grow after the Second World War and by the 1960s it already had nine faculties. In 1979 it was renamed to Edvard Kardelj University, in honour of the Slovenian Communist ideologue, but in 1990 it reverted to the University of Ljubljana.
After independence, especially under the 1993 higher education act, it transformed into what it describes as a "classical European university," with greater emphasis on scientific research and greater autonomy.
It presently comprises 26 faculties and academies and its 38,000-plus students are enrolled in 158 bachelors', 196 masters' and 21 doctoral programmes ranging from the arts to social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, medicine and law.
"A hundred years later we are a university that has gone beyond national borders and helps build the European university of the future," Chancellor Igor Papič told the STA.
He said the University of Ljubljana ranks among the top three percent of universities in the world, which was "probably unimaginable a century ago, when we were fighting to get the university in the first place and faced constant pressure that it be shut down."
In the latest Shanghai Rankings, considered a benchmark for higher education institutions, the university ranks 501-600, down from 401-500 last year.
At the ceremony today Papič said that the university was "in excellent shape". While it wants better financing, it is glad it does not currently have problems paying salaries. The main challenge at the moment is securing funds for the construction of several new faculty buildings and cutting-edge research equipment.