5 minute read

Slovenia

Educational System—overview

Slovenia has a relatively well-educated populace, and the education system is undergoing reform to bring it in line with the style, quality, and content of education and training provided by the European Union member states. As of the year 2000, more than 50 percent of the population aged 15 or older in Slovenia had graduated at least from upper-secondary school programs. Of those aged 19 to 29, less than 20 percent had not completed upper-secondary education. In 1999 some 21.3 percent of the economically active population in Slovenia had completed only basic education or had no formal education, while 78.7 percent of the active population had finished at least upper-secondary schooling. Over time, the proportion of the population enrolled in school programming has increased, although Slovenia's low birthrate means that incoming classes of preschoolers and children in the first few grades are smaller than in the recent past. Furthermore, compared with the European Union countries, Slovenia has very favorable teacher to student ratios. With the exception of postsecondary and higher education levels, schools in Slovenia experienced increasingly smaller class sizes during the 1990s and early twenty-first century. This has generally been seen as positive for student learning. Finally, progression rates from one level of education to another have increased over time in Slovenia, meaning that students are continuing on for more education than they had in the past.

In the 1999-2000 academic year, 185,554 pupils and students were enrolled in basic education in Slovenia. Through a gradual phasing-in process, children and youth between the ages of 6 and 15 are now required to attend 9 years of compulsory basic education, an increase from the previous 8 years of compulsory schooling. These first nine years cover primary and lower-secondary education levels, which are divided into three stages. The first stage of three years includes classes where pupils receive only descriptive grades; in the second three-year stage, pupils receive a combination of numerical grades and descriptive grades. By the final three years of basic education, only numerical grades are given. (The earlier system, reformed in the late 1990s, included two sets of four grades with children starting school at age seven and attending an optional year of preschool at age six.) An optional tenth year of basic schooling in preparation for passing the external knowledge portions of the exam required to enter upper-secondary schooling was added as part of Slovenia's newly revised educational programming. The language of instruction in Slovenia's elementary and secondary schools is generally Slovene, although Italian and Hungarian also are offered as languages of instruction for the Italian and Hungarian minorities in the two bilingual areas of the country.

Upper secondary education in Slovenia comes essentially in three different versions: four years of general secondary education in gimnazije, which provide general and classical education programs in preparation for tertiary studies (or for a vocational course in preparation for entering the labor market); four years of technical secondary education leading ultimately to professions in engineering and other fields, where technical graduates go on to tertiary studies in vocational and professional colleges; and two and a half or three years of vocational education in various forms, including combined classroom learning and on the job training and apprenticeships. Three-year vocational training programs can be followed by a two-year vocational-technical program, direct experience in the labor market, or at least three years of work experience followed by examinations to qualify students as a master craftsman, foreman, or shop manager and, consequently, the same level of recognition as students passing a four-year technical training exam. Those who finish examinations in general subject areas can qualify for tertiary studies in vocational education as well. In general, the education reforms implemented in the second half of the 1990s increased the availability and flexibility of education and training programs for students, making it possible for those who took vocational courses to transfer into technical programs and for others to shift out of a general education track into a more practical, work-oriented one.

Tertiary education in Slovenia includes academic higher education (lasting from four to six years), professionally oriented higher education (lasting three to four years), and vocational education at the postsecondary level (lasting two years). Additionally, post-graduate education in specialized studies or at the magisterij or doctoral level is available to graduates of the academic and professional higher education programs. These advanced programs typically take one or two years for specialized studies, two years for magisterij programs and four years for the doctoral programs.

Children and youth with special needs have received significant attention by Slovenia's educational administrators and teachers. Special development classes are provided for children ages three and over who have severe mental and physical disabilities. Modified curricula in elementary schools address the basic educational needs of pupils with minor mental disabilities, and moderately or severely impaired children are taught in special classes in elementary schools, after which they can find jobs in special centers. Mainstreamed classes for special needs students are provided through secondary schools and special schools in lower and upper secondary level vocational education and training. Special schools also exist for the more severely affected students who cannot function as well in the types of mainstreamed programs provided through regular schools. Students with learning difficulties may attend regular school programs and receive additional individual and group assistance of various types, integrated with their mainstreamed programming. Schools in hospitals also exist, providing children who are hospitalized for long periods of time with educational opportunities. A new special education law passed in 2000 outlined the rules for placing children with special needs in the most appropriate school programs with special committees established to assist in this process. Individualized education plans are highlighted in this law, which likewise facilitates the transferring of children between programs to ensure the best placements possible by increasing the monitoring of student placements and progress. Parents are now included to a larger extent in the planning and implementation of educational programs for special needs children and youth. In 1999-2000 Slovenia's special needs student population included 443 preschoolers enrolled in preschool institutions, a total of 2,796 students following modified curricula in elementary schools, and 2,003 students enrolled in special education institutions and in elementary schools offering special training in job skills. In 1997-1998 special needs students enrolled in modified curricula programs in secondary schools numbered 563. In the mid-1990s more than 3,000 teachers provided education to special needs students in Slovenia.

Additional educational programming is provided by some of the nongovernmental organizations operating in the country, many of them linked to the European Union and to initiatives designed to promote democratization in Central and Eastern Europe. For example, the Open Society Institute, funded by the Soros Foundation, has operated a "Step by Step Program" since 1995 that encourages parents and community members to become more involved in the education of preschoolers and elementary-age students. Among the goals it promotes, "Step by Step" encourages creativity and problem-solving in children, parental involvement in educational decisionmaking, and better learning opportunities for impoverished children, children with disabilities, children of minorities such as the Roma, and refugees living in Slovenia.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceSlovenia - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary, Secondary Education