by Richard Kvasnovsky

More than half of people believe that Slovak education sector is at a standstill, while one third think it’s heading in the wrong direction, according to a survey that TNS Slovakia conducted for a campaign entitled “We Want to Know More about Education in Slovakia” in May.

educationA mere 8 percent of the 1,000 people asked think that the sector is progressing.

“Measures that have been adopted so far have focused on improving school buildings or prescribing rules, but people are increasingly interested in what’s actually going on at schools, how lessons are taught,” stressed campaign team member Peter Dral.

The poll focused on teaching at primary schools, where see some weaknesses Slovak President Andrej Kiska as well.

“It’s been shown that children from a socially weaker environment do less well in school. That’s alarming,” warned Kiska, adding that he isn’t satisfied with the overall trend in education.

“What goes wrong in primary school won’t be repaired in secondary school. It seems to me that it’s primary education that needs to have a really strong impulse in a short time,” expressed Kiska.

The next problem with Slovak education is a lack of a better connection with requirements of labor market. Some 28 percent of employers in Slovakia say that they have difficulties finding the right candidates to fill their job vacancies.

“It’s a so-called paradox in the labor market, with employers looking for different candidates from those who are available on the market. Our education system doesn’t meet the requirements of modern companies,” announced Manpower Czech Republic and Slovakia head Jaroslava Rezlerova.

Slovakia’s labor market is particularly short of people with technical skills.

Among jobs that are the most difficult to fill are those for craftsmen, technicians, engineers, drivers and information technology specialists, sales representatives, accountants, as well as hotel and restaurant staff. The latest trend has also seen an increasing lack of unskilled workers, including manual workers and warehouse staff.

The government wants to change this trend with the new bill on dual education, which has became effective as of April 1.

According to the bill, the theoretical part of the education process will be carried out at schools, while the practical training will be entrusted to companies.

“We want to do our utmost to inspire greater interest in vocational education on the part of students, and to enable employers to participate directly in the education of young people and to hire these young people,” stated Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Most primarily, secondary schools and universities in Slovakia are owned by the state, though since the 1990s there are also church-owned and private schools.

Slovakia has 10 years of compulsory education. The state financed education and all textbooks and instructional material below the university level are free. However, there are also private schools which are paid. The fees are 1,000-10,000 euros (about 1,100-11,000 U.S. dollars) per school year.

All state-run educational institutions have suffered from a lack of funding since the early 1990s onward. School fees for university-level schools have been prepared for years, but the parliament has been unable to pass legislation requiring them due to strong citizen opposition. The private universities requires fees from 1,000 to 50,000 euros.

According to Dral despite the current lack of money, primary and secondary education is at a quite high level compared to many countries of the world.

“A major deficiency is insufficient promotion of independent thinking and student initiative, a complete absence of creative learning, unreformed and outdated teaching material,” added Dral. (1 euro = 1.10 U.S. dollars) Enditem


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