EDUCATION IN SLOVENIA
Nine-Year Programme Started in Primary Schools
For 130 years, compulsory education was of eight years' duration in Slovenia. On 1 September 1999, forty-two primary schools, somewhat less than ten percent of the total, introduced a trial nine-year education programme after several years of thorough preparation and pursuant to the 1996 Law on Primary Education.
This new system is to secure compatibility with primary education in Western Europe. In the 2002-03 school year, a nine-year primary school programme will be introduced into all 445 Slovenian primary schools. Simultaneously, the phasing-out of the current eight-year primary education will be under way and is expected to be completed by the 2007-08 school year, the year by which all Slovenian primary schools will have introduced the new programme in all classes.
The 1999-2000 school year saw the introduction of the nine-year curriculum in the first grade (at 24 schools) and in the seventh grade (at three schools). Both curricula are simultaneously taught at 15 schools.
New schools will join in gradually over the next few years. The public invitation to tender regarding introduction of the nine-year programme in 2000-01 was responded to by 65 primary schools, with licences to be issued in April 2000. An essential condition for the introduction is parental agreement.
The Convention on Recognition of Conventions Concerning Higher Education in the European Region, the Lisbon Convention, entered into force in Slovenia on 1 September 1999 after being ratified by the National Assembly on 20 May 1999. The Convention is particularly important in that it provides a basis for better co-ordination and the promotion of the mutual recognition of university degrees between the signatory countries, as well as for the recognition of qualifications allowing access to graduate education.
Alleviating Time Pressures on Secondary School Pupils
According to the new system, children will start going to school a year earlier, at the age of six. Prolongation of primary education by one year is expected to alleviate time pressures on secondary school pupils; there should be less homework, more revision at school, while courses would be divided into compulsory and optional ones.
Grading in the first three years of the newly-introduced nine-year programme will only be descriptive, while marks will be given in the final three years. Descriptive evaluations as well as marks will be given in the fourth, fifth and sixth years of school. After each three-year period, pupils will have to sit a national examination.
At Least Secondary Education for Everyone
There are considerable changes in secondary education, as a consequence of the legislation dating from 1996, which promise more flexibility and possibilities. In secondary education, Slovene education system has come very close to its goal - 100% transition of primary school pupils to secondary school. In 1999, the result was 98%. In the previous decade, it never reached even 90%. The goal is for every citizen to have at least a secondary education.
The number of graduates from both universities is growing rapidly (7.5% in 1998 compared to 1997) in Slovenia, as are the numbers of master's degrees and doctor's degrees (by 28%).
For a long time Slovenia had low graduate numbers at all levels of higher education. Changes started in the middle of this decade. The reasons are an increase in the number of students enrolling, the foundation of new higher education organisations, distribution of these institutions outside the two main centres of Ljubljana and Maribor. The second group of reasons concerns the fall in the number of students who do not qualify for the next year of their studies, which was relatively high in the former Yugoslavia. For many years, the transition from the first to the second year of higher education was only 55%. Since introduction of the final leaving certificate for matriculation in 1995, the statistics have changed considerably. The present result is 70%.
The third reason is the flexibility of the system at the tertiary level. Apart from the traditional university programmes ("long programmes"), a three-year higher education programmes as well as two-year post-secondary programmes are introduced, in which the young are becoming increasingly interested. These two-year post-secondary programmes were established in connection with the PHARE programme in 1996.
Priority tasks in the near future
The first task is to enable access to education to the broadest possible public, to the young and not so young. Good bases have been set up in this area in recent years.
The next thing is the issue of quality in higher education, which is a very specific issue and where there is already certain activity, as well as in pre-university education. The attention to adult education, especially those who remain without work, is also a priority
Last year a programme to educate 5,000 unemployed to thereby try and ensure them jobs was prepared. The campaign will continue this year. Another priority involves the ongoing efforts regarding vocational education.
In 1999 school year, Slovenia became a member of the programmes Socrates, Leonardo and Youth for Europe. Co-operation with other European nations is a very important element, whereby Slovenia can contribute to European culture as well as benefit from what other nations produce in this area. So far, Slovenia has co-operated in some programmes where it has received aid. These three programmes mean full co-operation, with Slovenia already paying its share to enable it to co-operate. Slovenia also started another programme within PHARE called MOCCA, which will introduce some novelties.
Joining the European school Internet network
Already in 1994 the National Assembly passed a special law on development programmes on education, including computer education. In September 1999 Slovenia was accepted into this Internet network. Today, practically all schools are connected by electronic means. Schools are very active in the area of electronic communication, which has become very close to the young. The new nine-year programme includes many more programmes of choice. This year, most children opted for information technology.
New legislation still to be adopted
Slovenia adopted the main education legislation in 1996, immediately prior to the negotiations regarding joining the EU. The legislation is the result of vast theoretical and development research, which included analyses of experience in Europe and around the world. There will nevertheless be some minor corrections and some new documents, e.g. a law on directing children with special needs. Slovenia would like to formulate a modern law to enable more suitable schooling for such children. In preparation is also a law on music schools, which are traditionally very popular in Slovenia, and a law on the final leaving certificate for matriculation which is based on an evaluation of the five generations that have already passed it.
The amended law on higher education is to boost the internal democracy of the universities, introduce a more modern financing system, give them higher autonomy and also greater responsibility. An Agency for European Programmes was set up, which is managing the above mentioned programmes. The main task is entirely practical: how to ensure connections and contacts and exploit the opportunities offered to Slovenia through these programmes.