This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments since 2021.
The introduction of the chapter describes the overall education strategy and the key objectives across the whole education system. It also looks at how the education reform process is organised and who are the main actors in the decision-making process.
The section on ongoing reforms and policy developments groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels:
- Early childhood education and care
- School education
- VET and Adult learning
- Higher education and
- Transversal skills and Employability.
Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.
Overall national education strategy and key objectives
The strategic objectives of the development of individual areas of the Slovak education system are described in the above concepts and strategies approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic.
Recovery and resilience plan of the Slovak Republic
The Recovery and Resilience Plan (Plán obnovy a odolnosti) was approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic on June 16, 2021. The plan consists of investments and reforms that will address the challenges identified in the context of the European semester, especially in the recommendations of the European Commission for Slovakia.
The Recovery and Resilience Plan focuses on 5 key public policies, including the "Education" area. Within this area, three main components have been identified:
- accessibility, development and quality of inclusive education at all levels
- education for the 21st century
- increasing the performance of Slovak universities
The plan will be supported by the Recovery and Resilience Support Mechanism, and support in the amount of 892 million euros will be allocated to the field of education.
National Programme of Education Development
Based on its programme statement, the Government of the Slovak Republic approved a new National programme for Development of Education and Training for 2018-2027 (Národný program rozvoja výchovy a vzdelávania na roky 2018-2027) in June 2018.
The National Programme for Development of Education and Training aims to provide a long-term concept of education content from pre-primary education, through primary and secondary education to higher education, as well as further education, focusing on personal development and acquisition of relevant knowledge and skills required for being successful on the job market. The programme goals include the increase of quality of the education system, greater accessibility to quality education for everyone, and modernisation of the education system in terms of the content, management, funding and evaluation.
National Reform Programme of the Slovak Republic 2023
The National Reform Programme of the Slovak Republic 2023 (Národný program reforiem Slovenskej republiky 2023), which was approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic in April 2023, provides a comprehensive overview of implemented and planned measures which respond to specific recommendations of the Council of the European Union for Slovakia (CSR). The National Reform Programme also communicates the pursuit of goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Implementation of the legal entitlement to pre-primary education from the age of 3 is still underway. As the entitlement is expanded to include other age groups, there is an increased demand for kindergarten places. Therefore, a Call for Direct Subsidies for Kindergarten Capacity Enlargement (Výzva na priame dotácie na zvýšenie kapacít materských škôl) is being implemented at the same time.
The Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic approved a new State Educational Programme for Primary Schools (Štátny vzdelávací program pre primárne a nižšie sekundárne vzdelávanie) which schools can choose to implement from 1st September 2023. As of 1st September 2026, it will become compulsory nationwide. In the context of curriculum reform, the National Reform Programme plans to further improve the quality of pedagogical and professional employees’ skills and motivate them toward continuous professional development. The emphasis will be put on inclusive education and digital skills.
As regards higher education, the implementation of performance agreements with higher education institutions is underway. The agreements should promote departure from the unified model of scientific workplaces toward a diversified higher education environment that offers profession-oriented programmes.
The reform programme plans to introduce a definition of the system of the periodic assessment of scientific performance and to carry out 20 assessments. The assessment of research at public higher education institutions will identify top-performing workplaces in the area of science and creative activity based on the approved methodology for the periodic assessment of scientific performance; it will thus contribute to the diversification of schools.
Implementation of short courses in further education – micro-credentials - is being prepared. The reform programme aims to support the creation of such courses and ensure their compliance with the European approach and the Council Recommendation on a European approach to Micro-credentials for Lifelong Learning and Employability. The courses will be provided mainly by higher education institutions.
Strategy for an Inclusive Approach in Education until 2030
The strategy of an inclusive approach in education and training (Stratégia inkluzívneho prístupu vo výchove a vzdelávaní) (hereinafter referred to as the "Strategy") is developed on the basis of the Programme Statement of the Government of the Slovak Republic for the years 2020-2024 (Programového vyhlásenia vlády Slovenskej republiky na roky 2020 – 2024), in the field of Equal Opportunities in Education. It was approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic on December 8, 2021.
It represents a framework strategic document that defines the direction of public policies to achieve change in the field of education of children, pupils and students towards inclusive education.
The supporting part of the Strategy is represented by six priority areas:
- inclusive education and support measures,
- advisory system in education,
- desegregation in education and training,
- removal of barriers in the school environment,
- preparation and education of teaching staff and professional staff,
The priority areas are elaborated into individual strategic goals, which are the basis of the First Action Plan for the period 2022-2024 (Prvý akčný plán na obdobie 2022 – 2024).
The strategy is an open document, in the future it will be possible, if necessary, to modify and supplement it based on the results of the implementation monitoring process.
Strategy for Internationalisation of Higher Education until 2030
On December 8, 2021, the Government of the Slovak Republic approved the Strategy for the Internationalisation of Higher Education until 2030 (Stratégiu internacionalizácie vysokého školstva do roku 2030) (hereinafter referred to as the "Strategy").
The Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic developed the Strategy on the basis of the government's programme statement in accordance with the Recovery and Resilience Plan. The strategy provides a medium-term concept for the development of the internationalisation of higher education as an effective tool for increasing the quality of education and the research environment at universities in the Slovak Republic until 2030. It focuses on increasing the availability of international experience during university studies and the modernisation of higher education in the context of internationalisation.
Lifelong learning and counselling strategy for 2021-2030
On November 24, 2021, the Government of the Slovak Republic approved the new Strategy for Lifelong Education and Counselling for the years 2021-2030 (Stratégiu celoživotného vzdelávania a poradenstva na roky 2021-2030). The revision of the lifelong learning strategy is based on the National Reform Programme of the Slovak Republic 2020 (Národného programu reforiem Slovenskej republiky 2020), part Education, Science and Innovation.
Its task is to respond to the dynamically changing labour market with measures. It thus responds to the need to provide lifelong education and counselling where citizens have a problem as individuals or where a systemic deficiency has been identified in the areas of skills for the population or specific target groups.
The main goal of the Strategy is to ensure that every citizen has lifelong access to opportunities to learn, to develop their skills and competences throughout their lives at every stage of life and with regard to individual needs and circumstances, so that everyone can realise their potential in personal, professional and civic life.
The strategy contains a total of 51 measures divided into thirteen thematic units. The individual objectives of the Strategy and the relevant measures will be elaborated in detail into action plans, by March 31, 2022, 2025 and 2028, with the evaluation of the results of the ongoing monitoring of the previous period.
Strategy for Equality, Inclusion and Participation of Roma until 2030
The Strategy for Equality, Inclusion and Participation of Roma until 2030 (Stratégiu rovnosti, inklúzie a participácie Rómov do roku 2030) (hereinafter referred to as the "Strategy") was approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic on April 7, 2021. The adoption of the strategy is one of the basic conditions for the preparation of the implementation mechanism of the EU cohesion policy after 2020 in the conditions of the Slovak Republic. The strategy is a national commitment of the Government of the Slovak Republic defining the direction of public policies with the aim of changes in the area of equality and inclusion of Roma.
It is a set of starting points and goals aimed at stopping the segregation of Roma communities, a significant positive turn in the social inclusion of Roma, non-discrimination, changing attitudes and improving coexistence.
The goals of the current strategy focus on three basic areas of the education system:
- child/pupil support and family care,
- support of the teacher's professional capacities,
- supporting the creation of a stimulating environment for pupils from marginalised Roma communities.
National Strategy for Digital Skills of the Slovak Republic
The Government of the Slovak Republic approved the National Strategy for Digital Skills of the Slovak Republic (Národná stratégia digitálnych zručností Slovenskej republiky) in December 2022. The material reflects the priorities set out in the Recovery and Resilience Plan of the Slovak Republic and it aims to develop digital literacy and competences of both professionals and the general public. The new strategy considers the importance of digital skills and incorporates the development of these skills into the education of children from an early age, as well as into the education of adults as a way of ensuring quality lifelong learning and more opportunities in the labour market. Measures in this area aim to support the development of basic digital skills, reskilling and upskilling, and requalification of low employability graduates from the NEET group.
As regards the field of education, the strategy focuses on:
- increasing the number of ICT specialists,
- increasing the number of female ICT specialists,
- increasing the number of people with at least basic digital skills,
- increasing the number of employers who provide education (to their employees) in the area of digital skills, and
- actively working with people from disadvantaged groups and educating in digital skills.
National Strategy for Research, Development and Innovation 2023
In May 2023, the Government‘s Research and Innovation Authority introduced the National Strategy for Research, Development and Innovation 2023 (Národnú stratégiu výskumu, vývoja a inovácií 2030) and the Action Plan for the National Strategy for Research, Development and Innovation 2030 (Akčný plán národnej stratégie výskumu, vývoja a inovácií 2030). The strategy responds to the challenges of recent years, such as the fragility of the globalised economy, energetic security, ecological limits, or the onset of robotics and artificial intelligence. It understands these challenges as an opportunity to transform Slovakia into a country based on knowledge economy principles. Therefore, it presents a vision for policies and investments in research, development, and innovation which is built mainly on changes in the funding of science and research and on the support of talented young people.
As regards the area of education, the goals of the strategy include:
- the implementation of long-term quality assessment of research at higher education institutions and research institutions and the implementation of performance agreements with higher education institutions and public research institutions,
- an increased emphasis on developing initiative, entrepreneurship, and new economy skills throughout the whole education system,
- a continuous increase in the quality of school education and the support of teachers based on the created curriculum and support documents,
- combatting graduate brain drain,
- the creation of programmes that are able to motivate people to take part in lifelong learning in strategically important skills and
- the support of lifelong learning courses and creation of short tertiary programmes at higher education institutions.
Overview of the education reform process and drivers
The reform processes of the Slovak education system are implemented through the adoption of new legislative regulations (laws, decrees and regulations of the government) published in the collection of laws or in the form of national educational strategies and concepts. The implementation of the adopted reforms is mostly within the competence of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sports of the Slovak Republic, as the national authority for the field of education.
The right to submit draft laws (that is, legislative initiative) belongs to the Government of the Slovak Republic, deputies of the National Council of the Slovak Republic and committees of the National Council of the Slovak Republic. The government submits proposals as a collective body, so its individual members do not have the legislative initiative, but only the government as a whole. On the other hand, deputies can submit proposals individually, or it can be a proposal of a group of deputies. The legislative authority of the civil public can be implemented in the form of a referendum, an electronic mass request and a petition. The National Council deals with proposals from citizens and civic associations even if they are submitted by a member of parliament. Laws are approved by the National Council of the Slovak Republic.
Decrees and ordinances are adopted by ministries and other central state administration bodies. Government regulations are adopted, changed and cancelled by the government at its meetings. Government regulations and decrees must not contradict the relevant law and must not go beyond the scope of the law.