Early childhood education and care
Preschool programmes are funded from municipality budgets, preschool fees and other sources. Parents contribute towards programme costs in dependence of their economic situation, the remaining funds come from the municipality where the kindergarten is located.
The programme financial structure is prepared by the kindergarten and approved by the Municipality Council. The municipality that established the kindergarten enters into a funding agreement with the kindergarten. The kindergarten submits a financing request to the municipality each month for the reimbursement of expenses. The municipality covers the outstanding programme costs and provides funds for investments, equipment and maintenance.
The municipalitysubsidises full programme fees for parents with permanent residence in the catchment area and for foreign parents with temporary residence in the catchment area if at least one parent is a tax resident (sl) of the Republic of Slovenia. The programme fees cover the costs of education, care and meals.
Fees for parents are determined on the basis of the national scale, which ranks parents by pay classes in accordance with the family's income and wealth. Funds are provided from the national budget. In accordance with the amendment to the Kindergarten act (sl) that was adopted in February 2021 if more than one child from a family is enrolled in kindergarten, parents are exempt from paying for the younger child from the same family. They are also exempt from paying kindergarten fees for the third and each additional child from the same family, regardless of whether they attend kindergarten at the same time as their sibling.
Development activities and activities of national significance are funded from the national budget and include:
- kindergarten groups in hospitals, so-called 'hospital units' whose activities are focused on the national territory, and half of the funds for salaries and benefits, taxes and contributions for preschool teachers in kindergarten units operating in other hospitals, whose operation has also been approved by the Ministry responsible for early childhood education
- preschool groups in specialised, state-funded institutions for children with special needs
- higher costs of kindergartens where the Italian language is used in the pedagogical work or where the pedagogical work is bilingual, in Slovenian and Hungarian (in kindergartens of official minorities) and for units with Roma children, including funding for a Roma assistant
- partial funding for investment and equipment in ethnically mixed areas
- the payments to kindergartens provide funds to co-finance the payments of parents who have two children enrolled in kindergarten at the same time or who have a third and each additional child enrolled in kindergarten, in accordance with Article 32(4) of the Kindergartens act (sl)
- research and experiments, information and archiving services
- professional training for teaching staff
- employment and training for young teachers
- scholarships for pre-school teachers and subsidies for school fees
- children books and toys and professional materials, subsidies for professional literature
- funds for the national award for teaching staff
- funds for international activities
- kindergarten units offering shorter 240-hour annual programmes for children not enrolled in kindergarten who will turn six in the following calendar year, the organisation and operation of which has been approved by the Ministry responsible for preschool education
- funds to cover the higher operating costs for the kindergarten development units.
Basic school is financed from the national and the municipality budget, from donations, sponsorships and other sources.
The government provides funds for the provision of the compulsory programme (lessons and classroom housekeeping lessons) and the extracurricular programme (non-compulsory optional subjects, supplementary and remedial lessons, individual and group support to pupils, interest activities, after-school classes and morning care).
Salaries for basic school staff are funded from the national budget. The level of funding for salaries is determined on the basis of job classifications and the number of occupied positions in a school; they must comply with relevant regulations, such as laws, criteria and standards and collective agreements.
The amount of funds allocated to a basic school is calculated on the basis of the Rules on norms and standards for the implementation of the basic school programme (sl). The Rules are issued by the Minister of Education after prior consultation with the Council of Experts for General Education and the trade unions. The criteria and standards include the teaching responsibilities of the teaching staff, the criteria for the provision of the counselling service, libraries, administrative, accounting and technical services, and the classroom and grouping criteria.
The government provides funding for the material costs of the programme, namely for teaching aids, field trips, and care for children with special needs, as well as developmental and other support activities, such as research, development, information and experimental activities in schools; in-service training for teachers; ICT and other means of instruction; international activities; operation of school libraries; textbook and literature subsidies; meals subsidies; pupil competitions and work with talented/gifted pupils; extracurricular activities; Roma children education; Slovenian language and mother tongue lessons for foreigners in basic schools; research and innovative activities of pupils, their transportation and care for children who need transport due to wildlife threats on their route to school.
Municipalities provide funding for basic schools’ capital investments, pay maintenance costs and material costs for buildings and equipment, for the so-called above-standard programme, and transportation and care for children who need transport. The above-standard programme may also include the presence of a second teacher in all lessons during the entire 1st grade; additional sports classes, a foreign language from year one, and so on. Kindergartens and schools can apply for funding for above-standard programmes at national competitions and by participating in national projects.
Upper secondary education
Upper secondary education is funded from the national budget; contributions from industrial associations and chambers; direct contributions from employers for the provision of on-the-job lessons; student fees; private school fees; the proceeds from sales of services and products; from donations, sponsorships and other sources.
The government provides funding for salaries of staff employed in upper secondary schools; for material costs, buildings and grounds, their maintenance and renovation, and equipment. This is subject to national regulations, such as the relevant laws, the methodology for determining the level of funding per student, and the relevant collective agreement.
The government also provides funding for support and development activities, such as pension and disability insurance for apprentices and students; textbook subsidies; the development of upper secondary education; research, development, information and experimental activities; professional development of teachers; development of teaching technologies; international cooperation; operation of school libraries; student competitions and work with talented/gifted students; student research and innovation activities, compulsory medical examinations of students participating in practical field work; student transport and school meals.
Financial autonomy and control
With regard to national regulations, the kindergarten/school council decides independently on its development plans, annual work plan and/or the introduction of above-standard and other programmes.
Programme and financial plans are drawn by the head teacher in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. The head teacher is responsible for the kindergarten/school planning, management and leadership. The head teacher must ensure that allocated funds are spent in accordance with the detailed objectives and plans. When calculating programme costs, kindergarten head teachers apply the national methodology for determining individual expenses within the programme financial structure. The Minister for Education issues a regulation which determines which expenses may be included in the costing. The programme costing and financial plans based on such premises must then be approved by the municipality council. Head teachers in basic schools must draft school financial plans in accordance with the Minister's regulation regarding the criteria, standards and methodology for determining costing per pupil.
Head teachers make decisions with financial implications, for example, on the categorisation of jobs, promotions and ranking of staff by pay classes. The criteria for job categorisation and the rules for promotion are prescribed by law. Head teachers in upper secondary schools, where funding is allocated on a 'per-head' basis have a little more room in making financial decisions.
Property management is the responsibility of the school founder. The school/kindergarten founder manages buildings and grounds, whereas school bodies play a supporting role. A kindergarten/school starts its own trust from which funds are derived for the above-standard programme activities that are not funded from public sources. The trust, for example, provides for purchases of above-standard equipment, above-standard lessons and similar. Finances in the trust come from kindergarten fees paid by parents, from donations, bequests and other sources. They are managed by the trust management committee which includes kindergarten, school and parent representatives.
Potential surpluses in kindergartens and schools may be offset or spent in accordance with decisions made by the body that provides funding. Settlements for damages arising from educational activities are the responsibility of the kindergarten founder; in the case of basic schools, this responsibility is shared by the municipality and the government.
Fees within public education
Payments by parents in pre-school education
Preschool programmes in kindergartens are subject to fees. The basis for calculating the fees payable by parents (sl) is the costing of the programme in which the child is enrolled.
Programme costs include:
- salaries for staff in accordance with the Civil servants act (en)
- material and service costs in accordance with national criteria and standards
- the cost of meals.
Parents are required to pay between 0% to 77% of the full programme price, depending on their financial situation. Fees for parents are determined by the centre for social work on the basis of the national scale, which ranks parents by pay classes according to the family's income and wealth. If more than one child from a family attends the kindergarten, parents are exempt from paying for the younger child from the same family. They are also exempt from paying for the third and each subsequent child from the same family, regardless of whether they are enrolled in kindergarten at the same time as their sibling.
The rules for reduced kindergarten fees to be paid by parents apply to both public and private kindergartens with a concession and to care-providing families. Only parents who are not obliged to pay income tax in the Republic of Slovenia pay the full fee for the programme in which their child is enrolled.
Payments by pupils and students in public schools and private schools with a concession
Education for children in public and private schools with a concession is free. Public and private schools with a concession may not charge pupils and students except for matters expressly permitted by law.
According to regulations, the school may charge for:
- the material costs of organising outdoor school (šola v naravi)
- contributions towards the cost of meals
- the cost of repeatingschool-leaving (matura) exams and other services that are not compulsory or go beyond the prescribed criteria and standards (above-standard programme).
Payments on behalf of pupils and students who are unable to pay due to their social situation are made by the government according to uniform rules determined by the Minister of Education.
Private schools receive 85% of finances for implementing the programme from the budget. Private schools may charge school fees but these may not exceed 15% of the programme costs. The amendment to the Organisation and financing of education act (2021) grants an exemption to private basic schools, which were established after the amendment of the law and may receive 100% public funding for the compulsory part of the publicly valid curriculum. They may not charge fees for this part of the programme.
Financial support for learners' families
Family policy in Slovenia was established by the Resolution on foundations of the family policy. It covers a range of social, managerial, legal, educational, medical and other measures that the government implements to improve the quality of life for families and individual family members. Family policy is based on values such as safety, freedom, solidarity, welfare and equality. The key cornerstones include two commitments, namely that the government contributes to the cost of child maintenance and provides additional support to families in certain situations and circumstances. This protection scheme provides families with financial support from the government, as well as health, retirement and disability insurance. Parental protection and family benefits are regulated by the Parental protection and family benefits act (en).
The law guarantees the following rights to all parents who are insured and pay for parental protection :
- maternity leave (105 days)
- paternity leave (30 days)
- child care leave (130 days for each parent (260 days in total) in the form of full or partial absence from work; in some cases longer),
- adoption leave (120 or 150 days; a person adopting his or her spouse's child is not entitled).
- maternity benefit
- paternity benefit
- child care benefit
- welfare benefit (a compensation for not taking childcare leave)
- adoption benefit.
Shorter working hours for parents up to:
- the child's third birthday - for all children
- the child's 18th birthday - for the care of seriously physically disabled child or moderately to severely mentally disabled child
- until the youngest child has completed the first year of basic school - for a parent caring for at least two children (one year of entitlement is non-transferable for each parent).
All rights under the parental protection insurance can be asserted at the local centre for social work, where decisions are made.
According to the Parental protection and family benefits act (en), families at risk can apply for the following types of family benefits (in dependence of their socio-economic status and wealth):
- parental allowance (monthly payment for the period of 365 days from the child's birth)
- childbirth allowance (one off payment)
- child allowance recognised for a period of one year (a supplementary benefit for maintenance, care and education of children, paid monthly if the income per family member falls under the average pay)
- large family allowance (one payment per year for families with three or more children)
- childcare allowance for the child in need of special care and protection (paid monthly as long as the reasons apply or the child turns 18 or 26)
- partial payment for loss of income (paid monthly as long as the reasons apply or for children up to 18 years of age).
National protection strategies for socially disadvantaged
The Resolution on the national social assistance programme 2013-2020 (sl) include the following priorities for the prevention of social exclusion:
- income support for the disadvantaged
- support for the labour market
- provision of access to social services
- ensuring accessibility (affordability) of services and programmes regardless of social status, etc.
Strategies to provide income support for the disadvantaged include:
- family benefits in accordance with the Parental protection and family benefits act (parental benefits at a child's birth, benefits for children, large families)
- subsidies for education and care in kindergartens (by exempting parents from kindergarten fees: free kindergarten for the second (younger) child; free kindergarten for the third and each subsequent child, regardless of whether the child attends kindergarten at the same time as a sibling)
- subsidies for school meals (for the socially disadvantaged, 100% of the costs are covered; subsidies for the snacks and lunch provided to socially disadvantaged basic school pupils)
- subsidised transportation for upper secondary students
- subsidies for borrowing textbooks.
Residence halls for pupils and students
Residence halls for pupils and students are available for pupils and students studying away from home. In addition to boarding, residence halls also provide educational services and ensure that pupils and students have adequate living and study conditions.
The boarding of pupils in basic schools is regulated by the Basic school act (sl). Residence halls are mainly required for pupils with special needs who attend adapted basic school programmes. Boarding is fully funded by the government.
Boarding for upper secondary students is governed by the Rules on accommodation in residential facilities (sl). Parents or carers pay for boarding costs, whereas the cost of the educational programme provided by the residence hall is funded by the government. For parents who have more than one student simultaneously boarding in a dormitory, the boarding costs are fully subsidised from the national budget.
The Personal income tax act (sl) introduced a higher tax-free threshold on income and a decrease in the progressive taxation on active income. An amendment to the Personal income tax act (2008) stipulated higher general tax relief for the lowest income brackets. Taxpayers with schoolchildren are not entitled to special tax relief.
Financial support for families of pupils with special educational needs
Families and children with special needs are entitled to special financial support from the government. The government provides funding for:
- the accommodation of children with special needs
- aids, equipment and adjustments in kindergarten/school rooms for children with special needs
- carers accompaning physically disabled and blind children
- boarding fees in residence halls
- special textbooks
- transport for parents and their children during holidays
- a higher level of funding for extracurricular programmes
- a more favourable ratio of children per teacher ratio in classrooms
- reimbursement of transport costs for parents with children in adapted education programmes
- funding for adapted transport for pupils.
If parents choose to homeschool their child with special needs, the government pays for a teacher in the child's home.
Parents with a severely physically disabled or moderately to severely mentally disabled child are entitled to a longer leave and a special parental benefit for child's care until his or her eighteenth birthday.
Financial support for learners
Scholarships for students are regulated by the Scholarship act (sl). In Slovenia, different types of student benefits are granted to cover the costs of education.
- government scholarships
- the Zois scholarships
- employer scholarships (offered by employers)
- scholarships for deficit professions
- scholarships for Slovenians living abroad
- scholarships granted on the basis of reciprocity to citizens of countries outside the EU with which the Republic of Slovenia has concluded bilateral or multilateral agreements.
- partial funding of employer scholarships paid directly to employers
- partial funding of employer scholarships indirectly via regional scholarship scheme administrators or local communities
- awards for students’ contribution to the sustainable development of the Slovenian society.
All students who receive of benefits in dependence of family income are eligible for a scholarship from the government. They must meet general conditions, such as:
- they must be under 22 years of age when they first enrol in an upper secondary school
- they must not be gainfully employed or registered as unemployed persons
- they must not be in receipt of any other scholarship (or educational grant under any other legislation).
A government scholarship cannot be less than €35 per month; including all benefits, it can be up to almost €400 per month. Government scholarship benefits for upper secondary school students include:
- benefits based on study results or performance
- benefits for education away from home, and
- benefits for scholarship recipients with special needs.
The Zois scholarship, which is higher than government scholarships, is awarded to talented and high-performing students.
Students can only apply for a scholarship for an accredited educational programme abroad if there is no similar educational programme in Slovenia or if it is part of an exchange programme. Such scholarships are generally higher than average.
Employers offer scholarships based on their own criteria.
Employers, regional scholarship scheme managers and local communities can apply for funds for educational initiatives if they meet the conditions and criteria for government scholarships.
Onetime awards for contributions to the sustainable development of Slovenian society are awarded to students for outstanding achievements, such as top rankings in national and international competitions, research projects, innovative products, works of art, published projects and similar.
Additional benefits in education, with the exception of employer scholarships, are funded from the national budget and paid by centres for social work and the The public scholarship, development, disability and maintenance fund of the Republic of Slovenia. Decisions regarding the granting of government scholarships to candidates are made by the relevant Centre for Social Services. The Public scholarship, development, disability and maintenance dund decisides on the granting of Zois scholarships, scholarships for Slovenians living abroad, incentives for education and awards for contributions to the sustainable development of society. The Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for mobility and European educational and training programmes (CMEPIUS) decides the granting of scholarships for citizens from third countries.
Young people under the age of 26 can apply for a range of discounts on travel organised by youth organisations and subsidised by the government. The aim is to promote mobility and the participation of children and young people in educational, cultural and sports activities. The government also grants young people discounts for attending cultural and artistic events.
There is no private education system in Slovenia which would be financed entirely from private sources. Private kindergartens and schools are fully or partialy financed from public sources. Supervision mechanisms are the same as in public kindergartens and schools. Private school programmes are monitored and evaluated from the first to the last enrolment of the first generation of students.
The Organising and financing education act specifies the following types of private pre-school, basic school and upper secondary school education that are partly financed from public funds:
- private kindergartens and schools with a concession to provide an accredited programme, which implement a curriculum;
- private kindergartens and schools without a concession that are accredited by the Council of Experts and thus publicly recognised. These include:
- private kindergartens and schools following an internationally recognised programme based on special pedagogical principles (Steiner, Decroly, Montessori and similar)
- confessional kindergartens and schools
- all other private kindergartens implementing their own programme as determined by the founder (such as music and forest kindergartens, etc.).
Private kindergartens without a concession are funded by municipalities, that is, they receive 85% of the cost of the public kindergarten programme reduced by the fees that would be charged for the child enrolled in a public kindergarten. Private basic schools and private gimnazije are also co-financed from public sources, 85% of which are provided by the government or municipality for the conduct of the public programme. The only current exception are private basic schools established after the amendment of the law (Amendment to the Organisation and financing of education act (2021) (sl)), which may receive 100% public funding for the compulsory part of the publicly valid curriculum. In this case, they may not charge school fees. (The register of upper secondary schools does not include any vocational or technical upper secondary schools).
Public funding for private kindergartens and schools does not include funding for investment, maintenance and equipment. Private schools are free to participate in competitions and projects available to public schools for this purpose.
Salaries for education staff are determined in accordance with the law and other regulations applicable to public kindergartens and schools. Financing and private kindergarten/school responsibilities are regulated by agreements between the funding body and the respective institution.
Financial benefits for families and children, pupils and students who are enrolled in public schools are also available to those enrolled in private kindergartens and schools with accredited programmes. Schools that are fully funded by public funds are not allowed to charge fees.
Private kindergartens can apply for funding from the municipality budget if they meet the following conditions:
- they provide at least half-day programmes
- they have at least one group of pre-school children
- they employ or hire pre-school teachers and pre-school teacher assistants to provide the programme by law
- they provide access for all children.
Private kindergartens with a concession are integrated into the in public kindergarten networks and are financed in the same way as public kindergartens. Private kindergartens without a concession are only partially and to a lesser extent financed by the municipalities and are therefore usually more expensive for parents. However, parents are entitled to all government subsidies for the second child enrolled in such a kindergarten.
The preschool education programme can be conducted by a kindergarten or a qualified private preschool teacher in a childcare family. This form of care is provided at the preschool teacher's home. The preschool teacher may work as a sole trader or as an employee of the nearby kindergarten. Private preschool teachers must be registered in the relevant register of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry determines the maximum number of children he or she may teach depending on his or her qualifications, programme and available space. If a private preschool teacher is registered with the Ministry of Education, he or she can apply for public funding. Private preschool teachers who provide preschool education in a child care family are entitled to public funding under the same conditions and criteria as private kindergartens. Fees paid by parents are also subject to the same criteria that apply to public kindergartens.
Private basic schools
Private initiative in education gives parents the opportunity to choose according to their ideological beliefs. It is underpinned by requirements for high quality. If a programme does not meet the required quality standards, the Council of Experts for General Education of the Republic of Slovenia does not confirm its accreditation. As it is a non-accredited, it does not fulfil the right of children to quality education.
Private basic schools are defined as schools that complement the public school system, offer choice to parents with school-age children, provide flexibility in the public school system and complement public schools with insufficient capacity. The opening of a private basic school must not lead to the closure of a public school by diverting all enrolments to the newly opened private school. Should the opening of a private basic school threaten the existence of the only public basic school in an area, the private school would not be eligible for public funding.
Additionally, financing from public funds is subject to the following conditions:
- employed teachers must meet the legal requirements for teachers in public schools
- school fees are capped by government regulation
- teachers' salaries are linked to public schools teachers' salaries and the salary-related legislation.
The private basic school programme must take into account the national regulations for the following compulsory subjects: Slovenian language - in ethnically mixed areas also Italian and Hungarian, mathematics, foreign language, history, civic education and ethics, sports, at least one natural science subject and one social science subject, and at least one art subject. The programme has to be approved by the Council of experts for general education.
In school year 2021/2022, six private basic schools (sl) in Slovenia implemented programmes according to special pedagogical principles (Steiner, Montessori) or a Catholic programme.
Private upper secondary general education schools gimnazije
Private gimnazijecomplement public education. They offer choices in education based on special pedagogical principles or in accordance with religious or philosophical beliefs. Private gimnazije programmes are accredited if the Council of experts for general education confirms that the educational standards of such a programme are equivalent to the public school educational standards.
Private gimnazije that offer accredited programmes and meet the conditions relating to premises, equipment and teaching staff have the right to register with the Ministry of Education at Upper secondary school registry and apply for funding equal to 85% of the fundings paid to public schools for salaries and material costs.
Private gimnazije offer a programme based on special pedagogical principles (the Waldorf gimnazija), a Catholic programme and the national gimnazija programme (established by private enterprise).