Ljubljana – The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left, Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the non-affiliated MPs, argued in the National Assembly on Friday that Education Minister Simona Kustec must go. The coalition stepped up in her defence. The Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) deputy group is still undecided.
According to LMŠ MP Aljaž Kovačič, the minister had but one task – to prepare the education institutions for the Covid-19 epidemic and present the measures to those she represents as minister.
But Kustec is neither on the side of children and students or teachers and head teachers, who “have found themselves in chaos and under pressure from angry parents because of ill-conceived and ambiguous decrees”.
He said Kustec had been absent and non-responsive in key moments for the education system, and was ignoring experts, epidemiologists, teachers and psychologists.
SD deputy Meira Hot said the minister was directly responsible for the “irresponsible and unacceptable treatment of our children”. She said all spheres of education had been neglected during her term and the Education Ministry was acting as an extension of the PM’s cabinet.
Hot said Kustec had made a number of mistakes since the motion to oust her had been drafted two months ago, so she would actually deserve a third such motion now.
Željko Cigler from the Left criticised the epidemiological measures in education as inconsistent, unpredictable, legally questionable and not coordinated with experts.
He said Kustec’s claims that the education had been organised successfully during the epidemic had no ground in analyses or expert assessments.
SAB MPs highlighted as their main grievance the minister’s insensitivity to the mental health of children and youth.
Janja Sluga from the group of non-affiliated MPs, who used to be a member of the Modern Centre Party (SMC) just like Kustec, said the minister had been silent even when she did not agree with government decisions. She said she had proposed to her to step down before today’s vote to “keep at least some personal dignity”.
Coalition MPs stood to defend Kustec today. Mojca Škrinjar from the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) said the Education Ministry had prepared several possible scenarios for this school year. “But you cannot decide how schools will operate on 1 September if you do not know what the epidemiological situation will be,” she said.
Iva Dimic from New Slovenia (NSi) was critical of the initiators of the no confidence vote. “Instead of helping in these challenging situation to the economy, healthcare and education, they are spreading untruths every day, misleading and spreading intolerance and hatred,” she said.
After listening to both sides, DeSUS MP are yet to decide how they will vote. According to MP Ivan Hršak, Kustec should bear a part responsibility for the situation but many things she is being accused of “are beyond her control or power”.
The opposition National Party (SNS) has not presented its decision yet either, but MP Dušan Šiško labelled the charges from the motion as “ridiculous”.
The initiators of the motion have 43 votes between them, three short of the required outright majority.