A systematic approach to organising adult education in Slovenia can be traced back to 1990s, with the establishment of the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education in 1991 and the publishing of the White Paper on Education in 1995. This document set the general framework for the restructuring of the educational system that was rooted in human rights and the rule of law.
In 1996 the government appointed the National Council of Experts for Adult Education (sl). In the same year, the comprehensive Adult education Act (sl) was passed (amended in 2006). This act regulates non-formal education and learning of people who have fulfilled their basic education obligation and do not hold the status of a pupil or a student. It defines the rights of "mature students" in general; programmes and service providers; and special features of financing and organisation in adult education. The act also stipulates key principles underlying adult education, namely:
- lifelong learning
- access to education under equal conditions
- freedom and autonomy to choose the path, content, forms, means and methods of education
- secularism of adult education provided as a public service
- professional and ethical responsibility of educators
- respect for the personality and dignity of every participant, and
- achieving the same educational standards of officially recognised educational qualification as those applied to youth.
In addition to the Adult Education Act, this area is regulated by other school laws (on basic; upper secondary technical and vocational education; upper secondary general education (gimnazija); and short-cycle higher vocational education) and labour and family laws. Part-time students in tertiary education include mature students. The examination system which provides national vocational qualifications (the so-called certificate system) is regulated by a special act.
Also of relevance in this context is the Strategy for lifelong learning in Slovenia (.pdf, sl), issued in 2007 by the Minister for Education. It was drafted as a conceptual framework within the implementation of the EU programme "Education and Training 2010". In addition, other national strategies have been adopted that address education for specific target groups, such as the Strategy for Roma education (.pdf, sl). The adoption of the Strategy for the inclusion of migrants into adult education is foreseen for 2015.
Turning back to the central piece of legislation, the Adult Education Act stipulates that adult education is provided on the basis of the national long-term master plan. The National Adult Education Master Plan is a strategic and developmental document adopted by the National Assembly. By confirming it, the National Assembly determines public interest in adult education; defines activities required for the implementation of adult education; and provides stable funding from public sources. The Master Plan is the basis for concrete annual work plans which are drafted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and adopted by the Government.
The current Adult education Master plan (sl) was adopted in 2013 and is valid through 2020. It was drafted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport in collaboration with other ministries and relevant stakeholders. The document took into account the propositions of the authors of the White Paper on Education (.pdf, sl) for the period up to 2020. The group of experts that was appointed by the Ministry found that – whereas there was a multitude of private non-formal vocational and professional development programmes available – providers did not cater sufficiently to the actual needs of specific, vulnerable groups of people, such as the elderly with low levels of educational qualifications, the unemployed, immigrants and school drop-outs.
The main topics covered by the Adult Education Master Plan are: vision and aims; priorities; target groups; objectives, activities and benchmarks; supporting activities; monitoring and evaluation; and the scope of public financing.
The vision of the Master Plan is to enable every adult in Slovenia to have the same possibilities for quality education in all periods of life. Priorities 2013 to 2020 aim to:
- increase the share of population with 4-year upper secondary educational qualification
- encourage adults to complete basic school education
- promote enrolment of adults into natural sciences and green economy programmes of higher education
- certify non-formal skills and knowledge
- improve general knowledge
- raise awareness and educate for sustainable development
- promote basic and vocational competencies to meet the needs of the labour market
- co-fund possibilities for re-entering and concluding education
- carry out motivational, informational and counselling activities, along with career guidance, and
- continue and improve good practices in adult education.
The Master Plan specifies specific target groups and addresses their access to quality adult education, among them the unemployed above 50 years of age without vocational or professional education or with lower professional capacities; employed above 45 years of age with less than 4-year upper secondary education or lacking key or professional competencies; employed that are not able to continue practising their profession above a certain age due to the specific psycho-physical requirements; young school drop-outs; socially deprived, immigrants, Roma, the elderly, the handicapped and convicts; other adults with limited access to social, cultural and economic goods, such as farmers and the population of less developed regions.
The Master Plan includes several concrete operational targets:
- increase in the level of participation in lifelong learning programmes among population aged from 25 to 64 from 36% in 2011 to 45% in 2020, based on the internationally comparable indicator which measures participation in such programmes in the 12 months prior to the survey (which is conducted every three years);
- increase in the share of adults aged 25-64 who are enrolled in general educational programmes from 5% in 2011 to 8% in 2020;
- halve the share of population above 15 years of age with incomplete basic education by 2020 (i.e. fall from 4.4% in 2011 to 2.2%);
- increase in the share of adults aged 25-64 with completed upper secondary technical education from 57% in 2011 to 63% in 2020; and
- half unemployed persons will enrol in programmes aimed at increasing their employability during the 2013-2020 period, as specified with the Active Labour Market Policy.
The planned total budget allocated to adult education for 2013 to 2020 totals €398,787,503.