Effort stepped up to save Slovenian school in Argentina
The only Slovenian school in Latin America, Colegio Esloveno Anton Martin Slomšek in Mendoza, is struggling for survival amid the deepening economic crisis in Argentina, but efforts are under way in Slovenia to raise the necessary funding.
The school's financial woes were discussed by the parliamentary Commission for Slovenians Abroad on 23 January with the members unanimously calling on the government to find a way to help the school. Competent Minister Matej Arčon vowed that his office will not let the school down.
The private Spanish-language school, founded in 2011 by a group of individuals looking to provide quality schooling for Slovenian and Argentinian children, currently has 125 pupils enrolled, of which 25 in kindergarten and 100 in primary school.
Roughly a third of the pupils and a quarter of the staff are descendants of Slovenian immigrants. The school's funding comes from donations and tuition fees, and the only source of public funding is funds from Slovenia. Its curriculum includes Slovenian language and culture classes.
The Arčon-led Office for Slovenians Abroad was recently informed that the school may close. According to the Catholic weekly Družina, the pupils' parents struggle to pay 50,000 pesos or about €50 in monthly tuition fee, while the school's monthly costs, including rent, wages, taxes and utility bills, amount to about 8 million pesos or roughly €8,000.
The school asked the office for more funds in October 2023 and was granted its request, which the office said at the time did not reflect the actual gravity of the situation.
The school received €11,000 from the office in 2023, almost double the figure in 2022.
In order to get better acquainted with the situation, Arčon recently met with the school's management. He welcomed a campaign launched by the Catholic charity Caritas Slovenia to raise donations for the school.
If necessary, Slovenia will step in by allocating emergency funds to help raise €50,000, a sum that is needed to keep the school open, the minister said.
Jana Lampe, who is responsible for international development and humanitarian aid at Caritas Slovenia, told the Slovenia Times on 24 January that the Catholic charity had so far raised €15,000 in funds to help the Mendoza school.
Jože Šmon, a representative of the school, and Mariana Poznič, a representative of a Slovenian minority organisation in Argentina, spoke about the gravity of the situation to the parliamentary commission via videolink.
An estimated 30,000 Slovenians and their descendants live in Argentina. Most Slovenians live in Buenos Aires, San Carlos de Bariloche, Mendoza, Parana and Rosario.
Fears are that the situation in the country, which faces galloping inflation, could deteriorate further after the recent change in power.