Education minister says criticism meant to silence her as woman

Ljubljana – Education Minister Simona Kustec responded to criticism mounted against her in a motion of no confidence as it is being debated in parliament on Friday by presenting achievements of her ministry so far. She sees the criticism of her work coming from the left-leaning opposition as being based on “mechanisms for silencing women”.

Kustec said that since her first day as minister of education, science and sport she had been busy introducing and implementing measures to curb the epidemic and creating a healthy and safe education environment for children and youth.

The measures that have been introduced are urgently needed and are being implemented all over the world, she stressed.

The minister rejected accusations that there is a confusion in education due to frequent changing of Covid rules. The measures are being changed based on the intensity of the virus in society, the level of their implementation and based on expert findings, she said.

Kustec asserted that the Covid situation was under control and that this was actually an opportunity for further development and introducing some much-needed changes.

She also denied claims that certain measures that should be required are not being implemented, saying that many measures had been introduced for children’s mental health, and that the funding of education, science and sport had been raised to a record-high level.

The minister also pointed to the state co-funding of many projects in educational institutions and building of schools. The pay of staff in education has also been raised, she added.

Kustec ended her address to MPs in a slightly emotional way, saying that she rejected all criticism “also based on the fact that the criticism of my work by the left-leaning opposition is based on mechanisms on how to silence a women, not take her seriously, humiliate her with insults, when you are not on the right side, especially if this is a woman in politics”. She said she had zero tolerance to such attitude and debate.

She said she would continue on the same path, working to the benefit of children and youth.

The no-confidence vote was initiated by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left, Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the non-affiliated MPs, who have 43 votes between them, three short of the required outright majority.

One of their main grievances against the minister is what they see as belated and chaotic preparations for the new school year in light of the Covid epidemic.

They also accuse her of a dismissive attitude towards the educational profession, trade unions and the civil society, and of an inability to coordinate Covid measures in the education system.

The minister is also being criticised over her attitude to research, neglecting sports and athletes, being insensitive to physical and mental health of children and youth, and undermining higher education.