|Official Country Name:||Republic of Slovenia|
|Number of Primary Schools:||824|
|Compulsory Schooling:||8 years|
|Public Expenditure on Education:||5.7%|
|Foreign Students in National Universities:||425|
|Educational Enrollment:||Primary: 98,866|
|Educational Enrollment Rate:||Primary: 98%|
|Student-Teacher Ratio:||Primary: 14:1|
|Female Enrollment Rate:||Primary: 98%|
The Republic of Slovenia (Republika Slovenije ) is situated in southeastern central Europe. With Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, and Croatia to the east and south, Slovenia has just 46.6 kilometers of coastline on the Adriatic Sea in the country's southwestern corner. The capital city, Ljubljana, sits directly in the middle of Slovenia. Measuring 20,253 square kilometers, Slovenia is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of New Jersey. Most of Slovenia's terrain consists of mountains and valleys; many rivers flow through the eastern part of the country.
Slovenia's status as an independent country is a very recent phenomenon, excepting a brief period of independence more than a thousand years ago. In the late sixth century, Slavs moved into the valleys of the Sava, Drava, and Mura rivers in what is now Slovenia and, pressed by the Avars, spread to the Black Sea, Friuli plains, the Danube River, the Adriatic Sea, and Lake Balaton. During the seventh century, various Slavic tribes united, and by the mid-eighth century, the area was part of the Frankish empire with the Slavs converting to Christianity and losing their independence. An independent state of Slovenes in Lower Pannonia was established briefly in the late-ninth century for just five years. Meanwhile, use of the Slovene language increased, particularly in religious services, and the first records written in Slovene, the Freising Manuscripts, were produced. From the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, the Slovene regions came under the rule of the Habsburg monarchy.
In 1848 Slovene intellectuals published their first political program for a United Slovenia, but the Slovenes' liberation from Austro-Hungarian rule was not achieved until 1918 when the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed at the end of the World War I. During the World War II, Slovenes fighting the Nazis and the German, Italian, and Hungarian occupation of the region formed the Liberation Front (known as the "OF"). With the end of the war in Europe, Slovene became one of the six republics in the new Federal Peoples' Republic of Yugoslavia declared in November 1945.
As part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia experienced the nationalization of its businesses and industries and their placement under state control. Although Slovenia was relatively prosperous as a member of FPRY, by the 1980s the economy was deteriorating in Yugoslavia, and Slovenia suffered economic losses. A growing nationalist movement in Slovenia gained strength, and in a December 1990 referendum, 88.5 percent of the Slovenians who voted opted for independence. On June 25, 1991, the Republic of Slovenia declared its independence from Yugoslavia; two days later, the Yugoslav Army launched its attack against the newly independent country. Armed attacks only lasted about 10 days, however, as the peace agreement (the Brioni Declaration) signed on July 7, 1991, ended the Yugoslav Army's military campaign. By late October 1991, all Yugoslav soldiers had been pulled out of Slovenia; the next month, Slovenia published its "Law on Denationalisation" in the Official Gazette. The Slovene Constitution was adopted on December 23, 1991, and immediately came into force, confirming Slovenia's independence from Yugoslavia.
In mid-January 1992 the European Union recognized Slovenia as a separate country, and Slovenia joined the United Nations in May 1992. The first elections in the country were held in December of that year. In May 1993 Slovenia became a member of the Council of Europe. By September 1994 Slovenia had joined the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which evolved into the World Trade Organization that December—with Slovenia as one of the founding members. In January 1996 Slovenia joined the Central European Free Trade Agreement. Five months later Slovenia signed an association agreement with the European Union granting Slovenia associate membership status, an agreement that came into effect in February 1999. June 1996 also saw Slovenia joining the Western European Union as an associate partner. On January 1, 1998, Slovenia became one of the nonpermanent members of the United Nations Security Council, further establishing itself as a European state actively participating in the international arena. All together, Slovenia belongs to about 40 international organizations as well as the main international financial institutions.
Nonetheless, the 1990s also marked a period of social unrest and political challenges for Slovenia. During the Balkans wars of the 1990s, thousands of refugees from neighboring countries poured into Slovenia, especially from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the autonomous province of Kosovo in southern Serbia. The movement of peoples in Slovenia due to the Balkans wars changed the numbers and proportions of ethnic groups living in the country to a significant extent, though the actual size of these changes had not yet been officially measured at the turn of the millennium. The 1991 census showed the ethnicity of Slovenia's population to be as follows: about 88 percent Slovene, 3 percent Croat, 2 percent Serb, about 1 percent Bosnian Muslim (Bosniac), and with less than 1 percent each of Hungarians, Italians, and other minorities, including Roma. About 71 percent of the population reportedly was Roman Catholic, 1 percent was Lutheran, 1 percent was Muslim, 4 percent was atheist, and 23 percent was other, including small proportions of other Protestant groups and Jews. About 91 percent of Slovenia's population spoke Slovenian in the early 1990s, whereas 6 percent spoke Serbo-Croatian and 3 percent spoke other languages, including Italian and Hungarian—the two principal other national minorities in the country whose languages were used in some of the country's schools.
The population of Slovenia, estimated at 1.9 million in July 2000, had a growth rate that year of only 0.12 percent. About 50.3 percent of the country's population lived in urban areas in 1999, when the population density was 98.7 persons per square kilometer. By 1999 nearly all Slovenes ages 15 and up were considered literate—about 99.7 percent of adult males and 99.6 percent of adult females. The total fertility rate in Slovenia in 2000 was 1.28 children born per woman. Approximately 16 percent of the country's population that year was 14-years-old or younger while 69 percent of the population was between 15 and 64 years of age and about 15 percent was 65 or older. At that time, Slovenia had an infant mortality rate of 4.56 per 1,000 live births and an under-fiveyears child mortality rate of 6 per 1,000 in 1999. The average life span of Slovenes in the year 2000 was 75.86 years (70.97 years for men and 78.97 years for women—a significant gender gap).
For centuries the economic base of the Slovenes was agriculture and forestry. However, during the twentieth century, especially during the years Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia, the country's industrial output grew substantially, and Slovenia became heavily industrialized. In 1999 Slovenia's GDP was US$20.7 billion, and the annual growth rate was 4.9 percent of the GDP. That year agriculture contributed only about 3.7 percent of the GDP while 38.4 percent of GDP came from industry, and 57.8 percent was derived from services (all estimates value added). Slovenia's annual per-capita income (GNP per capita) was about US$9,890 in 1999, much better that the per-capita income of any of the other five states that once had belonged to socialist Yugoslavia. Foreign direct investment in Slovenia by the late 1990s was also quite good: US$181.2 million for 1999. The World Bank noted that "Slovenia enjoyed the highest standard of living among the Republics of Yugoslavia" and that in 1999 Slovenia was "the most prosperous country in Central and Eastern Europe." The unemployment rate in 1999 was 7.4 percent, although reportedly about twice that figure obtained unemployment benefits. In 1998 nearly 11 percent of the workforce was employed in agriculture, 39 percent in industry, and 50 percent in services. Slovenia received substantial assistance from the World Bank and other international donors during the 1990s to reform its economic structures in the direction of private ownership. In 1993 Slovenia became a member of the World Bank, and in July 1993 the Bank awarded Slovenia its first Bank loan, worth US$80 million, to help privatize the economy and restructure the financial sector. About US$128.4 million in Bank funds for four economic development and restructuring projects had been committed for Slovenia by April 2000. By May 2000 discussions already were underway to start the process of Slovenia's eventual graduation from the Bank, since the country's economic performance had significantly improved compared with what it had been in the 1980s and early 1990s, and its economy having turned in a positive direction in 1993.
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.
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.
Preschool education in Slovenia is optional, although the age level for entering compulsory education recently shifted downward from seven years of age to six years. In the 1999-2000 school year, 64,151 children between the ages of 1 and 6 were enrolled in preschool programs—3,523 classes provided through a total of 808 institutions (either separate preschools or units within elementary schools). Taught by a teaching staff of 7,148, these children attended mainly publicly supported programs, but some attended secular or religious (mainly Catholic) private preschools. Nearly 60 percent of children between the ages of 1 and 6 attended preschool institutions in the late 1990s.
Children between the ages of 6 and 15 are enrolled in basic education. In 1995 the gross enrollment rate for basic education was 97 percent. By the late 1990s almost 98 percent of pupils successfully completed their basic education, and nearly all the basic education graduates went on to upper-secondary studies. In 1999-2000, approximately 185,554 pupils and students were enrolled in compulsory education, attending 816 elementary schools and distributed across 9,106 classes. At the close of the 1998-1999 school year, 15,140 teachers taught children enrolled in the basic education grades. The average class size for elementary schools covering the first 8 grades (9 grades, in the new system) in the year 2000 was 15 to 20 students. This was significantly lower than the European Union's maximum of 35 and lower than Slovenia's own maximum of 28. At the turn of the millennium the pupil to teacher ratio in Slovenian elementary schools was 12.4:1.
Students who complete the required basic education (previously eight years, but as of the early 2000 decade, nine years) take external examinations to progress on to the upper-secondary level. With the new education reforms of the nine year basic education divided into three cycles of three years each, students will be taking statewide examinations at the end of each of the cycles. The grades from these examinations after the first and second cycles will only be used to provide feedback to the students, their parents, and teachers. Grades from the third cycle exams will be used to determine whether or not pupils are ready for the next higher level of schooling.
Until the late 1990s, upper-secondary schools in Slovenia focused on integrated programs of vocational training and general education, designed to prepare students for both the labor market and higher education programs. With the education reforms at the end of the 1990s, Slovenia's education system now includes a variety of educational programs at the upper-secondary level with contrasting goals: shorter vocational training programs of two and a half to three years leading directly to employment after graduation and extended, four year training programs characterized by mainly general studies or by technical or vocational orientations. Gimnazija programs were reintroduced in the mid-1990s to offer students general and classical coursework as preparation for tertiary studies, and later in the decade more professionally oriented gimnazija programs were added to prepare students for careers in engineering, business, and the arts. Gimnazija programs culminate in the matura examination in five subjects, that was introduced in 1995 to replace the final examinations previously administered to graduating students. The gross enrollment rate for general secondary education was 21 percent in 1996. The new matura examination also serves as the entrance examination to higher education. Gimnazija students who do not wish to continue their education after completing upper-secondary schooling can take a vocational course and obtain qualifications in specific occupational fields. Four-year technical studies programs at the upper-secondary level are also possible, preparing students for vocational and professional colleges. After taking their final examination, or more recently the poklicna matura examination, students can proceed directly into postsecondary vocational and professional training from technical study programs at the secondary level. Graduates of secondary level technical programs can also take a special matura course to prepare for the regular matura examination that qualifies them for tertiary studies in any academic field.
With the education legislation passed at the end of the 1990s, vocational training programs were enhanced by better partnerships between vocational training institutions on the one hand and business and industry on the other. Short term vocational programs were established for elementary school graduates and for students with special needs and/or those failing to have completed basic education (i.e., the first eight or nine years of schooling) successfully. These training programs reinforce earlier training in general studies provided by elementary schools and also introduce general and vocational knowledge and skills to enable students to secure simple jobs. Passing the examination at the conclusion of the short-term vocational programs allows students to enter the job market or to proceed on to other secondary school programs. Those students who complete elementary schooling can enroll in vocational training lasting three years through vocational schools or in cooperation with employers through a work-study arrangement involving school-based education coupled with apprenticeship. The three-year vocational training programs typically finish with a final examination. The successful passing of this examination qualifies students to enter the labor market or to go on to two-year vocational-technical programs that culminate in the poklicna matura examination, the examination administered to students who go through upper-secondary level, technical-training programs. Additionally, graduates of the three year vocational programs can work for at least three years and then take an examination to qualify for postsecondary studies.
In the 1999-2000 school year, 105,455 secondary students were enrolled in 147 secondary schools—142 publicly funded and 5 private gimnazije. Of all secondary students, 30,608 were enrolled in vocational programs, 43,303 were enrolled in technical programs, and 97 took vocational courses, while 31,265 followed gimnazije programs and 182 were enrolled in the course preparing them for the matura examination. (Counts include full-time students and students with special needs.) The student to teacher ratio at the secondary level at the end of the 1990s was 12.1:1, an improvement over the comparable figure of 14.2:1 at the beginning of the decade.
Several forms of higher education exist in Slovenia with the number of choices increased by the education reforms made in the late 1990s. In 1996-1997 postsecondary vocational colleges (višje strokovne šole ) were added, linking education and work experiences more closely with much of the training provided by private companies. Training in these colleges lasts for two years and ends with a diploma examination and the title of the vocational area in which the student is qualified, enabling the graduate to begin work in a specific occupation. Starting with the 1998-1999 academic year, graduates of this form of training were also allowed to enter certain professionally oriented programs in higher education schools, depending on the decision of the latter institutions. In 1999-2000 Slovenia had 9 postsecondary vocational colleges—7 public and 2 private—serving a total of 2,447 students, of whom 1,189 were youth and 1,258 were adults.
Additional forms of higher education in Slovenia are provided through faculties and art academies belonging to universities, stand-alone faculties established as private institutions offering both professional and more academic study programs, and professional colleges offering only professional training. Slovenia had two public universities at the turn of the millennium, the University of Ljubljana and the University of Maribor, which together encompassed a broad range of faculties, academies, and colleges. The private colleges included schools for undergraduate and post-graduate study in such areas as environmental sciences, the humanities, business, and the arts, among others. A dual system was developed in the late 1990s whereby certain higher education programs trained students for specific professions and other programs give students more general preparation for further professional studies or for advanced academic studies and research. Higher education is divided into undergraduate studies, whose graduates receive a diploma and the first degree title, and post-graduate studies, leading to a second degree title, the title of specialist, the academic title of magister znanosti or magister umetnosti (equivalent to a Master's degree), or doctor znanosti (equivalent to a Ph.D. degree).
In the 1999-2000 academic year, 46 higher education institutions (39 public and 7 private) provided the above types of professional and academic training to a full range of tertiary students: 77,609 undergraduates (54,605 full-time and 23,004 part-time); 478 students in short, first degree university programs (169 full-time and 309 part-time); 35,145 students in professional programs (18,320 full-time and 16,825 part-time); and 41,986 students in academic programs (36,116 full-time and 5,870 part-time). At the post-graduate level, 3,006 students were studying in programs leading either to the magisterij degree or to the specializacija degree. (Figures were unavailable for students enrolled in doctoral-level programs.) Academic staff and support staff in higher education institutions in the 1999-2000 academic year, counted as full time equivalents (FTEs), numbered 3,682: 1,849 teachers, 1,818 assistants, and 15 researchers. The student to teacher ratio for higher education at the end of the 1990s was 15.8:1, which is slightly higher than the figure of 13.7:1 at the start of the decade, due to increasing numbers of students at the tertiary level without an equivalent rise in the number of teaching staff. However, the graduation rate of students entering tertiary studies has improved, since a greater proportion of students entering higher education programs actually graduate than was true in the past. Foreign students are welcome to study in Slovenia but must be competent in the Slovene language. A year-long preparatory program in Slovene is thus provided for international students intending to study in Slovenia who lack the necessary language skills upon arrival. Of the number of seats allocated for public higher education in Slovenia each year, an additional 5 percent are allocated for foreign students, which is generally sufficient to accommodate the number of non-Slovene students interested in pursuing tertiary education in Slovenia. A variety of educational exchange programs operate between Slovenia and the European Union member states and other countries, based on a number of agreements made between Slovenia and other states from the 1970s on. Substantial information is provided via Slovenian websites on the Internet to educate international students about educational opportunities and exchanges with Slovenian institutions of higher education.
Responsibility for educational administration in Slovenia rests primarily with the Ministry of Education and Sports. The Ministry drafts national policies on education, science, and sport; plans for the structuring and funding of educational institutions; manages public educational institutions; inspects schools; and administers financial aid. The Ministry also prepares legislation regarding education, science, and sport and must implement the laws and administrative regulations pertaining to these areas. The scope of the Ministry's tasks includes not only all levels of education within Slovenia but also the education of ethnic and national minorities such as the Roma, Italians, and Hungarians living in Slovenia and the education of the Slovenian minorities living in Austria, Hungary, and Italy. Educating special needs children and youth within Slovenia and providing supplementary courses worldwide in the Slovene language and culture also fall within the realm of the Ministry, as do initial and in-service training programs for Slovenia's teachers. In addition to the Ministry of Education and Sport, the Ministry of Science and Technology plays a significant role in developing and implementing international cooperation and exchange programs involving higher education institutions. The Ministry of Health, Families, and Welfare arranges specialized training in medicine for medical students in Slovenia, placing students in training programs connecting university institutions and clinics.
Various government councils also have been created to oversee the development of plans for education reforms in specific areas. For example, the National Curriculum Council with its associated subject-oriented committees was charged with developing new curricula for use in Slovenia's schools until the late 1990s when it was replaced by Councils of Experts for general, vocational and technical, and adult education, who adopted new curricula in line with the education reforms being made. The new curricula reflected a non-ideological (i.e., non-socialist) approach in presenting course content, and pedagogical emphasis was placed on developing learning and problem-solving skills in students instead of on rote memorization. Teaching students how to learn moved to the forefront, replacing earlier emphases on the teaching of specific content. The Council for Higher Education provides the government with advice on legislation pertaining to higher education and helps plan and implement higher education policies. Facilitating cooperation among various higher education institutions is also the responsibility of this council. The Association of Rectors of Slovenia and the Council for Science and Technology are two other significant bodies charged with educational planning and oversight. The EU Programmes Agency in Ljubljana and the Office of International Relations of the Ministry of Education and Sport promote cooperation with higher education programs and institutions in the European Union member states and other parts of the world. Associations of teachers and students are also increasingly active in Slovenia. The Slovenian Student Union is the principal national student association, headquartered in Ljubljana. Various student associations attached to the universities also exist, as well as a new Disabled Student Association. The Slovenian Society of Teachers is the principal professional association for educators in the country.
Financing education is one of the chief responsibilities of the government of the Republic of Slovenia. In 1995 about 12.6 percent of public spending and 5.8 percent of Slovenia's GNP was dedicated to education. The same year, 16.9 percent of the public funds expended on education supported higher education, and the amount spent on each tertiary student was equivalent to 38.0 percent of the GNP per capita. Basic and secondary education are free in Slovenia. Costs for attending public universities are more reasonable, on the whole, than in the European Union member states. Tuition in the late 1990s, for example, was generally less than US$1,500 per year in the social sciences and humanities and less than US$2,000 for other disciplines at the undergraduate level. For Master's and specialist programs, tuition costs were up to US$2,250 in the social sciences and humanities and US$3,000 in other disciplines. At the doctoral level, a year's tuition in the social sciences and humanities ranged up to US$2,250 for students who had already completed a Master's program or specialist degree studies and US$4,500 for those who had not; in other disciplines the comparable figures ranged up to US$3,000 and US$6,000, depending on the discipline (social sciences and humanities versus other disciplines).
Administrative responsibility for educational research in Slovenia also falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Sport. Educational research is conducted in conjunction with the regular activities of the teacher-training institutes in the higher education system as well as by a special government council, the Ministry of Education and Sport, and the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia.
Opportunities for adult education in Slovenia are abundant and varied, although efforts to improve access for all adults to further training are continuing. During the 1990s significant attention was placed on increasing programs for adults at all educational levels—basic education, upper-secondary levels, and higher education. An adult education master plan for the 10-year period lasting until 2010 was to be adopted by the National Assembly in 2001, outlining the main strategy and goals for adult education in the country. A wide variety of schools and institutions have offered educational programming to adults, and the number of offerings has increased over time, particularly after Slovenia moved to privatize industry and enterprises.
Traditionally, adult education has been provided through peoples' universities (ljudska univerza ); in addition, schools and higher education institutions catering to youth also include courses for adults, which have been adapted to the needs and learning styles of more mature learners. Both day and evening courses and programs are available, including apprenticeship training, through full time and part time schedules, covering academic subjects as well as professional, vocational, and in-service training. Post-graduate studies are also available to adult learners in Slovenia. Private companies and various interest organizations also offer educational programming for adults. The Slovenian Institute for Adult Education has supported projects involving independently run learning centers, opportunities for educational exchanges, study circles, multimedia-supported learning, and distance education. Trade unions also design programs to prepare employees for retirement. The Slovene Society of Teachers and the University of Ljubljana's Faculty of Arts together established the "Third Age University" in 1986 to give senior members of Slovene society the opportunity to take part in learning activities as well.
During 1998-1999 the Ministry of Labour, Family, and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Sport jointly initiated "Programme 5000" to provide education and career support to the unemployed. In 1999 more than 23,000 unemployed adults took part in the various offerings of this special, publicly supported program. A new law passed in 2000 has established a nonformal certification system through which vocationrelated knowledge can be assessed and verified, qualifying adults for new types of work or for additional training in already developed occupational skills.
Distance education has increasingly drawn attention from educational administrators and instructors in Slovenia. As the country becomes more technologically advanced and interacts increasingly with the European Union's member states, advances in educational technology are also being made and integrated with learning programs. At the University of Maribor, the Faculty of Economics offers distance-learning programs that culminate in a higher education diploma. Concerning the level of information technology in Slovenia, in 1999 there were 251.4 personal computers for every 1,000 people in the country—roughly 1 computer for every 4 persons. The same year, Slovenia had 7 Internet service providers and 99.1 Internet hosts were available for every 10,000 people. More traditional forms of technology are also readily accessible for educational purposes. In 1997 there were 805,000 radios and 710,000 televisions in Slovenia, a country whose population was less than two million. Roughly speaking, this meant that one radio was available for every two and a half persons and one television was available for every three people.
In Slovenia basic education teachers are trained primarily in four-year programs in Faculties of Education, with an additional year of absolventski staž provided to allow students to complete their academic requirements, write their diploma thesis, and prepare for the defense of their thesis. Secondary school teachers are also trained in Faculties of Education and in other faculties as well. Their programs likewise last four or four and a half years, plus a year of absolventski staž. Professional examinations for teacher certification follow the training programs of both basic and secondary level teachers. Additionally, secondary level teachers can also be prepared by completing higher education programs and working for three years. They then follow a special credentialing course that qualifies them to teach in secondary schools. The teaching staff at vocational colleges are called "vocational college lecturers" (višji predavatelji ) and must complete undergraduate studies, pedagogical qualification, and three years of relevant work experience, plus have achieved special competence in their professional fields. Higher education faculty are prepared through doctoral training programs in the various disciplines in which they eventually will teach.
The education system of the Republic of Slovenia is impressive indeed. While the country continues to undergo the difficult process of transitioning from a socialist, state-controlled economy and centralized government to a more democratically functioning, market-oriented state, the educational infrastructure has been quite thoroughly reformed and modernized since the mid-1990s. As a consequence, Slovenia's education system today resembles the educational systems of Western Europe much more closely than it resembles the education systems in the other formerly socialist states once belonging to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Having separated out earlier from Yugoslavia when its national economy was stronger than that of the other republics, Slovenia nevertheless experienced some of the social upheaval associated with the Balkans wars of the 1990s due to the inflow of significant refugee streams as the region shattered. However, because the war itself directly reached Slovenia for only a very brief period in 1991, Slovenia was spared much of the suffering incurred by the other states in the region and has managed to pull together its newly democratizing and liberalizing political and economic structures more rapidly and with greater success than other countries in the region. Slovenia clearly places a high value on education and has made substantial strides toward improving educational offerings at all levels, from preschool through adult education. The key challenge now appears to be meeting the needs of the newly restructured labor market and the decentralized and privatized economy while the banking system is still in the process of restructuring itself. By developing education and training programs that are more responsive to market needs, Slovenia is bound to find itself on the cusp of educational and economic progress in the Central and Eastern European region during the first few years of the twenty-first century. Continuing to involve itself in educational exchanges and cooperative ventures with the member states of the European Union and with other countries undoubtedly will benefit Slovenia over the next several years as growing numbers of Slovenian citizens and nationals seek to prepare themselves for the increasingly diverse and rich social and economic opportunities available to them, both in Slovenia and abroad.
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—Barbara Lakeberg Dridi
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