Klavdija Markež to Be Nominated New Education Minister


A political novice, Markež, 39, is an economist by profession and holds a master's degree in state and European studies.

In parliament, she focuses on education and public administration as a member of the Committee on Education, Science, Sport and Youth and of Interior Affairs, Public Administration and Local Government.

Before being elected MP last year, she had since 2004 served as director of the Public University in Ptuj, one of several public educational institutions for adults.

She also headed the Association of Public Universities in 2008-2012 as part of which she advocated the removal of red tape in EU fund phasing, among other things, according to a release from the PM's office.

Markež also worked as an economics and marketing teacher and in 2014 for half a year as a project and education manager in the corporate sector working on links between business and the education system.

The release said her efforts in the latter job were for a pilot implementation of apprenticeship.

Announcing his decision, Cerar said that Markež had gained precious experience both in the field of education and in reconciling the educational process to the needs of businesses.

Markež said in her response to the nomination that the job would be a challenge and a responsibility. She expressed the wish for cooperation and dialogue among the key players in the field.

Talking to the STA, Markež moreover said she expects the National Assembly to endorse her, adding that she was likely to be quizzed by the relevant parliamentary committee early next week.

She did not want to talk about her priorities as minister, but did say that Slovenia will have to correct anomalies such as the one allowing side earnings for professors, which led to the scandal that forced Setnikar Cankar to resign.

The media meanwhile reported that she has recently worked for a company investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation. Markež said that she was aware of the investigation and that she was "in no way involved".

First reactions from coalition parties are positive with deputies from the Pensioners' party (DeSUS) and Social Democrats (SD) praising Markež as MP and airing the belief she could make a good minister.

SD leader Dejan Židan and DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec meanwhile underscored that the education ministry was allotted to the SMC, so Cerar as PM and SMC leader had a discretion to put forward a candidate.

"DeSUS will back her if she doesn't come with baggage," Erjavec said.

Opposition parties would not comment on the pick until they learn more about the candidate's plans during a hearing in parliament.

Still, MP Miha Kordiš from the United Left (ZL) expects "cuts and commercialisation in education" to continue considering the PM highlighting Markež's experience in reconciling the education process with businesses' needs.

Reactions from academic and education circles have been reserved, with the head of the conference of Slovenian state universities, Ivan Svetlik, and the head of the headmasters of primary schools, Milan Rejc, saying they do not know the candidate.

They both underscored that the new minister should be appointed as soon as possible considering the many issues in the education needed to be tackled.

Branimir Štrukelj, the head of SVIZ trade union of teachers, and Žiga Schmidt, the head of Slovenia's Student Organisation (ŠOS) also said that they did not know Markež but expressed hope for social dialogue.

Setnikar Cankar resigned on 6 March after the anti-graft commission revealed she had earned over EUR 600,000 in 12 years besides her regular pay when working for the Faculty of Administration, including as its dean.

She is the second minister in the Cerar government, which is in office less than six months, to have resigned over a scandal. Until the appointment of a new education minister, PM Cerar is acting as a stand-in.