Constitutional & Legal Foundations
Slovenia is a parliamentary, democratic republic established according to the Constitution of December 1991. The Slovenian legal system is based on a civil law code. All Slovenes, men and women alike, are eligible to vote at age 18; 16- and 17-year-olds also can vote if they are employed. Slovenia's chief of state is the president, who is democratically elected to five-year terms of office. Since April 1990, Milan Kučan has been president of Slovenia. The executive branch of the national government also includes a prime minister and Council of Ministers. The prime minister, Andrej Bajuk since the Fall 2000 election of the national parliament (National Assembly or Drzavni Zbor), is the leader of the majority party or the winning majority coalition. He or she usually is nominated by the president to serve as prime minister and elected by the National Assembly. The Council of Ministers is nominated by the prime minister and elected by the National Assembly. The National Assembly is a unicameral legislature of 90 representatives elected to 4-year terms. The national legislative branch also includes the National Council (Drzavni Svet), an advisory body of 40 representatives of local, socioeconomic, and professional interest groups; the representatives are elected to 5-year terms. The National Council has certain limited legislative powers in that it can propose laws and review the National Assembly's decisions. The third branch of Slovenia's national government is the judicial branch, consisting of a Supreme Court whose judges are elected by the National Assembly after being recommended by the Judicial Council and the Constitutional Court, whose judges serve 9 year terms, are elected by the National Assembly, and nominated by the president. Slovene local affairs are administered through a system of 136 municipalities (obcine) and 11 urban municipalities (obcine mestne).
Slovenia has a relatively positive reputation in terms of respect for international human rights. Elections have been free and fair, and the government operates by democratic systems, which allow multi-party competition, freedom of speech, and freedom of association. The judiciary operates independently of the executive branch, and a human rights ombudsman deals appropriately with alleged abuses. However, some problems do exist in terms of police brutality and other violence against Roma, discrimination against non-Slovene residents, and violence and discrimination against women. Trafficking in women also exists. Compared with the other countries of the former Yugoslavia, however, Slovenia stands in relatively good stead. This is acknowledged by the fact that Slovenia is expected to be one of the first of the transitional democracies in Eastern and Central Europe to accede to full membership in the European Union.
Concerning the basic philosophy of Slovenia's educational system, the 1995 "White Paper on Education in the Republic of Slovenia" spelled out several key values and principles underpinning the educational reform efforts begun in the 1990s. In its December 2000 report on Slovenia's education system, the Ministry of Education and Sports reported these to be: "(1) accessibility and transparency of the public education system, (2) legal neutrality, (3) choice at all levels, (4) democracy, autonomy, and equal opportunities, and (5) quality of learning to take precedence over the accumulation of facts." The Ministry also pointed out that a "legislative framework for change" resulted from the "White Paper" with a series of laws passed between 1996 and 2000 that have provided specifications and support for reforms in the organization and funding of the education system from preschool through university levels; adult education; professional and academic titles; the establishment of school inspectorates; linkages between formal and informal education in the area of vocational training and certification; music schools; schools and classes for children with special needs; the promotion of computer literacy; textbook revisions and modern teaching methodology; foreign languages; school meals; and school construction. Among the most important education laws passed in the 1990s were the 1993 and 1999 Higher Education Acts, the 1996 Vocational and Technical Education Act, and the Act on the Provision of Funds for Urgent Education Development Programmes. The Constitution of 1991 contained elements related to education, specifying certain essential aspects of the education system such as the autonomy of state universities and other institutions of higher learning and the basis of the state's obligation to financially support higher education.
The legislative reforms of the 1990s prompted by the 1995 "White Paper" were directed toward achieving the following objectives, according to the Ministry: making more educational opportunities available to all persons with special needs and improving the mainstreaming of special learners; widening the variety of preschool education, methods of teaching, and approaches to learning at all levels; facilitating transfers across different categories of education and making full- and part-time studies more accessible; increasing the number of adult learners and making adults more functionally and culturally literate; providing for greater educational opportunities for the socially disadvantaged; ensuring gender equity in education; establishing a higher education system more like that existing in other European countries and coordinating the system with European developments; promoting quality; and strengthening post-graduate studies, the links between teaching and research, and connections among higher education institutions, industry, local communities, and the public. Methods for monitoring the implementation of educational reforms also were developed in 1999 so that education authorities could assess the degree and quality of educational improvements being made in the country. The Phare program of the European Union also has provided assistance in this area.
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