Education trade union voices discontent on World Teachers’ Day

Ljubljana – The Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia (SVIZ) expressed its frustration with the authorities on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day. Teachers are still being ignored despite proving their contribution to a functioning society during the epidemic, said Branimir Štrukelj, the secretary general of SVIZ.

Established in 1994 and held on 5 October, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.

“Those recommendations are still valid today,” said Štrukelj, adding that this day was about reminding governments and authorities of the importance of education and the teaching profession.

“One of the key recommendations is that the authorities should engage in social dialogue and work together with teachers’ organisations to formulate school policies and organise the education system. That does not exist in this country,” said Štrukelj.

He explained that SVIZ had not been consulted about the organisation of the education system in a long time, and that their requests have seen no response from the Education Ministry in recent times.

Štrukelj wondered whether the authorities were even aware of the UNESCO recommendations on the position that teachers should have in society, given the complexity of their work.

He added that SVIZ wanted to be taken seriously, urging respect for the teaching profession and pointing out that this year, UNESCO has particularly highlighted the important role that education has played during the epidemic.

At the same time, Štrukelj made it clear that this importance of teachers’ work has not translated into additional funding or staffing.

He pointed out that alarms are already ringing in schools because of staff shortages due to quarantines and sick leave, with no serious solutions in sight.

In his opinion, the latest amendment to the organisation and financing of education act, which is currently in parliamentary procedure, is the culmination of the politicians’ mistrust in the teaching profession.

The amendment would change the composition of school and kindergarten councils by reducing the number of representatives belonging to the profession, thus increasing the influence of the founder – the government.

“This opens the door to political influence on the running of kindergartens and schools, which has been successfully curbed by the current structure, and that is why SVIZ is strongly opposed to this change,” said Štrukelj.

The trade union urged Education Minister Simona Kustec and MPs to take a stand against the amendment. “Otherwise, we will use all the tools available to us as a trade union, including a referendum,” concluded Štrukelj.