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Slovakia - Educational System—overview

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceSlovakia - History Background, Constitution Legal Foundation, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education - NONFORMAL EDUCATION

EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM—OVERVIEW

The history of education in Slovakia is closely bound to the region's cultural politics and nationalist aspirations. The legacy of Magyarization in the Slovak region has had lasting effects, even into modern times. The presence of over a half-million Hungarians within the borders of Slovakia still effects the shaping of Slovakian educational policy. Other ethnic minorities, except for the Roma (gypsies), have always had larger national states beyond Slovak borders with which they can identify. The defeat of Germany during World War II has silenced the remaining German enclaves in Eastern Europe. The region's volatility is underscored by the history of the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. The fact remains that educational concerns are highly impacted by ethnic questions. Before the nineteenth century, Latin was the official language of Slovakia. A distinct Slovak language emerged under the tutelage of Ludovit Stur. The Constitution of 1992 was designed to maintain a degree of balance among potentially competing ethnic groups and as a remedy for past injustices.

The Constitution of 1992 makes an effort to fulfill the promises made or implied after the Ausgleich and Dual Monarchy of 1867, where Article Seventeen of Law XLIV promised instruction in the mother tongue. The fact remains that Slovaks were without institutions of secondary education from 1875 to 1918 (Seton-Watson 1965). Not until 1919 did Slovakia have a university, Comenius, in Brataslava. In an effort to shed the legacy of communism, the civil legal system has reverted back to the legal codes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (CIA 2000). This is reflected in the structure and educational requirements. Compulsory education begins at age six and lasts eight years. The government does not require a secondary education. After completion of compulsory education, students choose a vocational or an academic track leading either to a trade or to a professional career that requires university study. The official language of instruction is Slovak.

The most recent statistics on the Slovak educational system date from 1995. As a new democracy in east central Europe, Slovakia has had to struggle with the economic difficulties of the move to a market economy. Funds are scarce, so innovation in education is at a minimum.


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