STA, 27 August 2020 - Slovenian primary and secondary school students will start the new school year in classrooms on 1 September, the government decided on Thursday after assessing the current epidemiological situation.
The decision means all students will start instruction in class, though they will have to observe guidelines issued by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).
Schools and teachers are ready, Education Minister Simona Kustec told the press after the government session.
Slovenia has had several possible scenarios for return to school depending on the extent of the coronavirus epidemic and the one confirmed now is known as model B.
It involves social distancing for pupils from different classes, regular washing of hands and regular ventilation of classrooms.
Classes are recommended to be divided into smaller groups, if possible.
Face masks will not be obligatory in classroom for pupils, whereas teachers will have to wear them if an adequate distance could not be maintained.
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 21 August 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 21 August 2020 - A poor flow of information stemming from the coronavirus pandemic makes it harder to compare Slovenian government decisions to developments in other countries, the left-wing Mladina weekly says in Friday's editorial, headlined Closed Society. It criticises a decision to introduce quarantine for returns from Croatia instead of offering testing.
Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says that we are witnessing a year when information flow has drastically slowed down globally, with the focus on Covid-related information.
The lack of information makes comparison with other countries harder, so Slovenians see government decisions as "completely logical and the only possibly ones".
Repovž points to a decision to impose a two-week quarantine for travellers returning from Croatia, saying public debate is centred on whether to introduce it or not, instead of considering a third option - mandatory testing.
While this option has been introduced in the majority of Western countries, there is no public pressure to consider it in Slovenia and the government is not mentioning it.
If one decides on voluntary testing, they can do it at only two points, and it comes with a high price tag of over 90 euro.
Belgium, a much richer country, offers it for a mere 46 euro, and it is free of charge in Austria or Germany for those returning from other countries.
Repovž says that many people being quarantined has economic consequences for entire Slovenia which go beyond the potential cost of testing for the state.
But being closed information-wise, we see the government's thoughtless moves as the only option, he says.
Education is another area the editor takes issue with, saying the government should have changed legislation to give schools more autonomy in adjusting to Covid-19.
Instead, headmasters and teachers are terrified not knowing whether they will be able to observe all the recommendations.
Repovž says that if there was no emergency due to the epidemic, all major world media outlets would have sent their teams to Slovenia by now.
The epidemic has somewhat concealed the fact that Slovenia is an EU member state where anti-establishment protests have been going on for the fifth month running.
Was there no epidemic, it would be clearer the country is in a deep political crisis, says Repovž, adding that foreign media will probably realise that in the autumn when protests get more radical.
Problematic East European countries linking up in an ever louder and self-confident manner gives the EU and its powerful members more opportunities to react in a harder and clearer manner to the course pursued by the European East, to which Slovenia now belongs, concludes the editorial.
STA, 20 August 2020 - Two weeks before students are to return to brick-and-mortar schools, the right-wing weekly Demokracija says there would be no harm for students if remote learning continues in the autumn, saying that left-wing politicians are critical of this scenario because it would make it harder for them to indoctrinate children.
The weekly says that the results of the matura secondary school leaving exam were better this year following months of remote learning, but the left wing leaves this out of debates. Instead, they focus on "socialisation, which is actually indoctrination and has been made harder in distant learning."
"They are scared that they are losing power over the young and over their training to become future obedient multiculturalists and rainbow warriors," Demokracija editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says under the headline Dialectics of Good and Bad.
When a child learns by themselves or with the help of parents, focus shits away from things deemed important in the 2011 education white paper put together by a left government.
The biggest victory of cultural Marxists was to change education white books so as to render knowledge unimportant. Standards have been lowered to accommodate the "new citizens, arrivals from countries where the average IQ is by up to two standard deviation classes lower than the average IQ in developed countries".
The goal was social engineering that made subjects like the mother tongue, mathematics, physics and other natural sciences unimportant, replacing them with environmental activism, hunger and poverty, LGBT rights, multiculturalism, the fault of Europeans for the underdeveloped third world, green energy and social fairness.
The consequence is that children are raised to be mediocre to reduce the differences between them. "This is a typical socialist concept of being equal in poverty, but with an enlightened (and self-proclaimed) elite at the head".
The elite is the only one to benefit from the system that makes the development of any country virtually impossible by repressing meritocracy, whereas the latter benefits everybody, even those who are unsuccessful. The meritocratic elite can split an atom, research nanoparticles, send a man to the moon, make iPhones and laptops and boost food production with sophisticated technology.
To raise as many such people as possible, the education system should only provide young people with knowledge, they can form their own view of the world later on by themselves. This is the only way we can move forward, Demokracija says.
"You don't believe me? I ask you, which of these studies is more important to tackle hunger and poverty: studies by various 'peace institutes' about patriarchy in rural areas and gender equality in agricultural work, or a study by a technical institute about new and more effective ways to grow corn and cereal?"
All our posts in this series are here
This is an emerging story, and updates may be added later today
STA, 18 August 2020 - As things stand now, all primary and secondary school children will return to school as the new school year begins on 1 September, yet all preventive coronavirus recommendations will have to be observed, Education Minister Simona Kustec announced at a news conference at Brdo pri Kranju on Tuesday.
"But if the epidemiological situation worsens considerably in the next 14 days, we will have to take that into account," the minister added.
She said the situation should be clearer after Thursday's government session, at which Health Minister Tomaž Gantar will present the epidemiological situation.
Kustec expects that based on that assessment of the situation, "the best possible solutions" will be adopted.
"I myself will back all the decisions leading to a safe return to school for all primary and secondary school pupils."
The development comes after four scenarios were prepared taking into account various Covid-19 situations and following calls for all children to return to classroom.
The Education Ministry-prepared models for the coming school year envisage fully opened and fully closed schools as the two extreme options.
The two middle options would see a combination of lessons in class and distance learning, with younger children being prioritised for the former.
At today's conference of head teachers at Brdo pri Kranju, the ministry presented a special publication with the four possible models for 2020/21 with instructions of how to act when applying either of the models.
It is model B that envisages the return to classrooms for all primary and secondary school children while recommendations to prevent infections are simultaneously observed.
The space and staff restrictions imposed as part of model B are such as to still allow for schooling in classroom, Kustec believes.
Social distancing for pupils from different classes will have to be maintained, hands regularly washed and classrooms regularly aired.
Classes are recommended to be divided into smaller groups, if possible.
Face masks will not be obligatory in classroom for pupils, whereas teachers will have to wear them if an adequate distance could not be maintained.
Pupils will have their morning meal in the classroom, while lunch will be served in the dining hall with the maximum number of pupils allowed to be in it at a time to be set.
Parent-teacher meetings should be held remotely.
Kustec said that if some of the restrictions, which had been harmonised with all stakeholders, proved unrealistic, they would be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
National Education Institute director Vinko Logaj believes the recommendations are feasible, but he admitted that some would require much more communication and coordination.
Both urged all stakeholders, including parents and pupils, to help create the optimal conditions for the full return to school. Kustec said that only healthy children and teachers should come to school.
The British International School of Ljubljana have been busy planning for the upcoming academic year and how best to meet the challenges ahead, as well as the needs of all their students when learning commences at the end of August 2020.
A full review of the premises has already been completed, including a deep clean, room layouts altered, and guidance updated to meet health and safety expectations with a variety of new hygiene provisions for everyone in the building. They continue to plan for smaller classes, outside breaks in spacious areas and a restriction of events where students gather. Following these guidelines, keeping the children safe and healthy is their absolute priority and at the heart of everything that they do.
Along with the preparation of the current building, the school is continuing to expand with developments on the new building now fully visible. This exciting project shows the growth and ambition of the school as it heads towards considerable improvements in the pedagogical facilities, as well as increasing the size of the very popular ‘Woodland Area’. This area was used significantly in the last term with students enjoying a range of outdoor learning experiences, exercising in the open space and learning through play and exploration. With specialist classrooms, open performing spaces and the adjoining woodland area, the students are guaranteed to enjoy and benefit from the improvements to the physical school building.
The most exciting area of improvement is with the quality of education to meet the needs of all of the students in the school. During the planning stage for the coming term, the school has invested heavily in online training for teachers with the Orbital Group eLearning Manager, Zsofia Alibaux Jakab, coordinating all online training to enhance and transform student learning through the Orbital online learning platform. Training sessions will be used to develop lessons, resources and activities to benefit students’ development when they return to school. A wider access to e-learning will benefit all students and give them more choice, variety and enable them to learn in different ways. Staff will have the chance to use a variety of forums, apps and tools to be innovative with the curriculum throughout the school. This will create a personalised experience for all students and build upon the successes identified during the enforced online learning period last term. With a strong English development programme throughout the school, high-quality lessons and now further progress with online learning, this all contributes significantly to the holistic development of each and every child.
The Principal, Paul Walton, commented, “We have used this time during the summer effectively to produce impressive online courses, excellent training opportunities for our teachers and time to plan together. The way in which they have embraced the challenge to develop curriculum has been inspiring and they have exceeded expectations with their work ethic and effort to create the best resources for students.”
The school again offered a two-week summer school for their students and, with over 80 participants, it was more popular than ever this year. Students thoroughly enjoyed learning together and were full of energy, happy and safe. During the first term, the school have also created opportunities for ‘enrichment days’ that are free for students outside of the normal timetable. The aim is to provide them with further activities that were restricted due to COVID-19, including team sports, practical activities, science experiments and physical education challenges. This will help students gain valuable life skills and experiences with others together in a safe and secure environment.
The British International School of Ljubljana benefits from being part of the Orbital Education Group, where there is a continued focus on offering a provision of high-quality education across all the schools.
STA, 13 July 2020 - Final-year secondary school students appear to have made it through two months of remote learning ahead of the matura exam without major damage, as the national school-leaving exam was successfully passed by around 94%, only one percentage point less than in 2019.
The matura exam, a crucial test determining future study possibilities, was a major challenge for the education system, since schools were closed in mid-March due to coronavirus to open for some pupils, including final graders, only in mid-May.
Two months of remote learning however appear to have had no major impact on students' performance in the exam, which began on 30 May. Of the 5,560 grammar school students who were allowed to take it after finishing their final year 93.92% passed the exam, which compares to 95.18% in 2019.
The number of those to score 30 points or more out of 34 available even exceeded last-year's figure from the spring matura term, the number being 280 compared to 236 last year. All points were collected by 11 students, while it was eight last year.
Meanwhile, the national school-leaving exam for vocational students was passed by 92.59% in the first of what are two terms, which compares to 93.08% last year. The number of those scoring 30 points or more increased from 345 to 388, while the number of those with the maximum score was up from 106 to 112.
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.