National Council rejects higher language standard for bilingual schools

Ljubljana – The National Council vetoed on Wednesday amendments to the act on special rights for minorities in education which would set a higher Italian language standard for staff working in Slovenian-Italian bilingual kindergartens and schools.

The changes were originally tabled by the two MPs representing the minorities, Ferenc Horvath in Felice Žiža, to ensure higher quality of education in the Italian language in the minority area.

The proposed amendments are a result of an analysis of the situation and based on feedback by head teachers of the bilingual kindergartens and primary and secondary schools, Žiža explained.

Councillor Branimir Štrukelj, the head of Slovenia’s main trade union of teachers, SVIZ, however argued that it was wrong for administrative staff to be subjected to stricter requirements regarding Italian language skills as well.

“Given that jobs would depend on the knowledge of the Italian language, even for technical and administrative workers, it could be said that the Italian minority would be isolating itself in terms of staffing,” added Štrukelj.

The Education Ministry also disagreed with the amendments. According to State Secretary Damir Orehovec, they believe that the language competence requirements would be unnecessarily tightened and that the current legislation is adequate.

Similar sentiments were shared by the members of the National Council, who supported the veto with 23 votes in favour and 5 votes against.

After endorsing the changes in a 44:33 vote last Thursday, the parliament will now have to repeat the vote, with 46 votes required to pass the amended law this time.