The Slovenia Times

Govt moves to secure full state funding for private primary schools


Education Minister Maja Makovec Brenčič told for the press the top court's decision needed to be respected, while stressing that the changes did not equalize public and private education.

She highlighted that full financing of private schools with certified curricula was only being secured for the mandatory programme, while a number of differences remained in other areas.

Also, public certification will no longer be confirmed automatically but subjected to thorough checks and annulled if necessary.

The senior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) moved ahead with the proposal without the support of the fellow coalition Social Democrats (SD), while the ministers of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) voted in favour.

The SD announced they would not back the law, arguing that it undermined the very foundations of public education.

The SMC's Simona Kustec Lipicer said after a coalition meeting today that there were no substantive reasons why the changes to the organisation and financing of education act should not be sent to parliament.

She added that the changes had been ready for some time but had not been processed due to ideological differences among the coalition partners.

Kustec Lipicer however also suggested that the adoption of the changes should be connected to parallel changes to the Constitution in the relevant segments.

This indicates a solution that could appease the SD, who have been pushing against the changes, including with a stalled proposal to amend the Constitution to curb public funding for private schools.

SD president Dejan Židan however said after today's meeting that "should the prime minister insist on this path, we understand this as him sliding to the right of the political spectrum".

Kustec Lipicer said the amendments to the Constitution should be compatible with the content of the legislative changes and expressed the expectation coalition partners will cooperate constructively in both procedures.

Under the valid law on the organisation and financing of education, state-approved curricula at private primaries get only 85% government funding.

But the Constitutional Court ruled more than two years ago that parliament must enact within a year full financing of private schools with publicly certified curricula.

The proposal provides for full financing of private schools with certified curricula, but only for the mandatory programme.

Meanwhile, only 85% funding is planned for the extended curriculum, which includes pre- and after-school care, remedial classes for struggling students and additional classes for top students.

Also being introduced are clear rules and the need for clearance from the education minister in the appointment of headmasters, as well as stricter conditions in the establishing of schools, including private ones.

The centre-right opposition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) have been calling for the implementation of the Constitutional Court decision but said today they would have to study the proposal before deciding whether to contribute their votes.

NSi deputy Jožef Horvat said his party would try to improve what it deems "a compromise by an incompetent coalition" in the course of the legislative procedure.


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