The Slovenia Times

International school opening in Maribor

Science & Education

Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, will launch its first international primary school programme in September, joining Ljubljana in catering to the needs of internationally mobile families.

Leon Štukelj Primary School has been certified to provide the programme developed by the Geneva-based organisation International Baccalaureate (IB), which is available at more than 5,000 schools worldwide.

Starting small

The plan is to provide classes in English at all undergraduate levels of education, from pre-school to secondary school, for children aged 3 to 17. However, as the enrolments stand now, they will start off with primary school classes from grade 1 to 5.

"There has been some interest in grades higher up, but the candidates were too diverse in terms of age for us to be able to do the upper grades. Everything is still open, we'll see how the enrolment goes and will adapt as we go along," headteacher Mirko Škundrić told the STA.

He expects the interest to increase, saying it takes time for new things to take hold. "Even in Ljubljana, at Danila Kumar Primary School, they started off with about 15 pupils, now they have 200," he said of the other school in Slovenia that provides the IB primary education programme.

It is common for this type of programme that the number of children enrolled is constantly changing, even during the school year, because it allows pupils to move from one school to another. The internationally recognised programme ensures that the schools work the same way everywhere.

This autumn, the school in Maribor expects to have a total of eleven kids in two classes. Most of them are foreign citizens whose parents came to Slovenia for work.

School for mobile students

"Those who plan to stay in Slovenia longer are advised to enrol their children into a Slovenian school. If they plan to move again in a year or two, international school is a better option," Škundrić said.

International schools are typically aimed at the children of foreign diplomats and representatives of businesses and other organisations.

"We were contacted by a lady who had been sent by her company to an executive position in Maribor, but she made the transfer conditional on her children being able to study in an international programme," said Škundrić.

Slovenians are allowed to enrol only in exceptional cases. "We have a child whose parents travel a lot because of their sporting career, and so children can seamlessly continue schooling abroad."

Tuition fees will range from €6,100 to €8,600 per school year.

Maribor attracting foreign professionals

The headteacher believes that international programmes benefit Slovenian schools. "We're trying to create synergies between the national and IB programmes. This way they can learn from each other, be it kids, parents or teachers."

Kids from both programmes will be in the same building and will share some common activities, such as physical education, art and music. "Children will be able to communicate, some of them improving their English, others Slovenian", and some teachers will teach both programmes.

IB programmes are subject to strict standards and international control, and the Maribor primary school had to hire more staff and undergo certain training to get certified.

Škundrić believes Maribor's appeal for families from abroad is that it is not the capital city. "It's a vibrant city but also affords a peaceful and safe life. It's close to Austria, Hungary and Croatia, which is interesting for companies looking outside the capital, where the cost of living is higher and the traffic is busier."


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