Fundamental principles governing education in Slovenia are embodied in the Constitution, two White Papers on Education, and legislation on individual stages and/or aspects of education.
Constitutional principles on education
The Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia (1991) laid down the fundamental principles governing education in Slovenia. These are:
- Basic school education is compulsory and public-funded
- State provides opportunities for citizens to acquire educational qualifications
- Physically and mentally challenged children and other persons with severe disabilities have the right to education and training for an active life in society; education and training are public funded
- State universities and higher education institutions have an autonomous status
- There is freedom of scientific and artistic creativity
- Constitutionally recognised Italian and Hungarian national communities have the right to education and training in their respective languages and to develop and design it
- Position and special rights of the Romani community in Slovenia
- Freedom of using and developing the Slovenian sign language.
Principles and objectives in key policy papers and legislation
White paper on education in the Republic of Slovenia 1995
This blueprint for the comprehensive reform of the educational system was based on human and children's rights standards, and it defined the fundamental cornerstones, principles and objectives of education in Slovenia.
Some of the main points laid down:
- Public schools remain secular, as they had been before independence.
- Schools are autonomous concerning the authorities and ideologies outside of school.
- Education opens to and connects with the rest of Europe, for example in terms of language learning, comparability with international knowledge standards and intercultural education.
- Kindergartens and schools provide education and training for all members of society based on common values.
- Educational goals focus on the education of an individual as an autonomous person and creating an enlightened citizen.
- Equal opportunities for better school outcomes imply recognising differences among children and their rights of choice and of being different.
- Accessibility is guaranteed with the introduction of private schools, a non-compulsory part of the programmes, and with the ability grouping.
The 1995 White paper was the platform for the comprehensive reform and a series of new legislative instruments covering the organisation and funding of education, as well as specific aspects of different levels of education.
In 2007 and 2008, a new round of legislation revisions took place. The education of entrepreneurship and innovation was added to the objectives of basic school education, and overall, a more competence-based approach was adopted in that period.
White paper on education in the Republic of Slovenia 2011
It outlined a systematic review of the structure and operations of the education system. Additionally, it included recommendations for reforms aimed at assuring quality education in the future.
The paper laid down four core principles four of education in Slovenia:
- Human rights and responsibilities – referring to the common European heritage of political, cultural and moral values that are brought together in human rights and concomitant responsibilities, as well as the principles of plural democracy, tolerance, solidarity and the rule of law.
- Autonomy – including the professional autonomy of education professionals and of educational institutions, which is related to the key goal of education: to form an independent, thoughtful and responsible individual who relies on the acquired knowledge, social and other skills.
- Equality – closely related to ensuring that all citizens have equal opportunities to succeed in life, which requires equal opportunities to acquire education, along with equal and impartial assessments of pupils' knowledge and equal, impartial and proportionate positive and negative sanctioning.
- Quality – reflected in basing education on common values such as human rights, as well as in the educational process itself, which must be in line with the broadest possible consensus about what constitutes a good school, a good kindergarten, etc.
And it identified the main objectives of education in Slovenia:
- Ensuring the quality provision of education at all levels
- Facilitating optimal physical and psychological development of an individual
- Providing general education and knowledge as well as vocational skills and knowledge that are comparable with countries achieving the highest results at international competitions
- Developing capacities for lifelong learning and continuous personal and professional development
- Providing equal opportunities in education. No one should have poorer chances because of their gender, social and cultural background, religion, nationality, worldview and/or physical and mental constitution
- Offering support and incentives to specific groups that need them
- Creating a proper environment for particularly talented individuals to excel
- Facilitating cooperation between educational institutions and the broader community, and
- Developing capacities for living in a democratic society.
The central piece of legislation that covers all levels of education (apart from the higher education) is the Organisation and Financing of Education Act. It defined the following objectives of education:
- Providing optimal development of individuals, irrespective of gender, social background or cultural identity, religion, racial, ethnic or national origin, and regardless of their physical and mental constitution or disability
- Educating for mutual tolerance; developing awareness of gender equality, respect for human diversity and cooperation, respect for children's and human rights and fundamental freedoms; developing equal opportunities for both sexes; and, thereby, developing the competencies needed to live in a democratic society
- Developing linguistic competencies and raising awareness of the Slovenian language as the official language of the Republic of Slovenia; in ethnically mixed areas, fostering and developing Italian and Hungarian in addition to the Slovenian language
- Assuring quality education
- Promoting awareness of the individual’s integrity
- Raising awareness of citizenship and national identity and broadening the knowledge of Slovenia’s history and culture
- Enabling inclusion in European integration processes
- Giving the possibility of choice at all levels of education
- Providing education that corresponds with an individual's level of development and age
- Providing equal educational opportunities: in areas with specific development problems; to children from less favourable social environments; to children, youth and adults with special educational needs
- Educating for sustainable development and active participation in a democratic society, which includes a deep understanding of and a responsible attitude to oneself, one's health and other people, one's own and other cultures, the natural and social environment and future generations
- Promoting lifelong learning
- Allowing the entire population to receive general education and obtain an occupation
- Allowing as many people as possible to achieve the highest possible level of education while maintaining the set level of difficulty, and
- Allowing as many people as possible to develop and achieve the highest possible level of creativity.
Resolution on the National programme of higher education 2030
Public interest in higher education is defined by the national programme for higher education adopted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.
The objective of this strategic document is defined in the Resolution on National programme of higher education 2030:
- Creating the best environment and opportunities for academic institutions and their staff to provide state-of-the-art in their respective areas of activity and promotion
- Passing on top-quality knowledge that we can offer in our country to respective generations of students.
The Slovenian programme of higher education until 2030 builds on the following principles and guidelines:
- Social, economic and environmental co-responsibility of knowledge
- Tight connecting and cooperating within the academic community and beyond
- Power of digital transition
Contents and objectives of the national programme of higher education build on five important segments:
- Social development and higher education
- Legislation and funding
Strategy of the Republic of Slovenia for short-cycle higher vocational education 2020–2030
Short-cycle higher vocational education is a flexible part of tertiary education and is based on practice-orientated studies. Competency and outcome orientation distinguish quality and cost-effective education. Expected outcomes must be created in partnership with various stakeholders.
The strategic goal of the strategy is to assure:
- Stable funding for operations of higher vocational colleges
- Versatile quality of short-cycle higher vocational education
- Responding to the needs of the economy and society, and
- Employability of graduates.
Resolution on the National Programme of Adult Education in the Republic of Slovenia 2021–2030
Public interest in adult education is defined by the national programme for adult education adopted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia. The objective of this strategic document is defined in the Resolution on National programme of Adult Education in the Republic of Slovenia 2021–2030.
Objectives and principles at the individual educational level
Preschool, basic school and upper secondary education are regulated by relevant laws specifying goals and principles of education (see Preschool education, Single structure education and Upper secondary education).
The Kindergarten Act defined non-compulsory preschool education as an integral part of the education system. It specified that preschool education would uphold the following principles:
- Autonomy, professionalism and responsibility of staff
- Equal opportunities for children and parents, considering the diversity among children
- Right of choice and to be different, and
- Balancing different aspects of a child's physical and mental development.
Objectives of preschool education:
- Developing the capacity to understand and appreciate oneself and others
- Developing the ability to reach consensus, appreciate diversity and cooperate or interact in a group
- Building the capacity to recognise emotions and encouraging emotional experience and expression
- Fostering curiosity, exploratory spirit, imagination and intuition, as well as developing critical thinking
- Nurturing linguistic development for effective and creative use of speech and, subsequently, of reading and writing
- Nurturing appreciation of works of art and artistic expression
- Providing knowledge of different sciences and everyday life
- Facilitating physical development and activity, and
- Developing independence in caring for one's hygiene and health.
According to the Basic School Act, the goals pursued by basic education can be summarised as follows:
- Providing quality general education to the whole population
- Promoting a well-coordinated physical, cognitive, emotional, moral, spiritual and social development of individuals
- Enabling the pupils’ personal development in line with their capacities and interests, including the development of a positive self-image
- Building capacity for further education and a professional career, with an emphasis on lifelong learning
- Educating for sustainable development and active participation in a democratic society, which includes a deeper understanding of and a responsible attitude to oneself, one's health, other people, one's own and other cultures, natural and social environment and future generations
- Developing awareness about the country of origin and national identity, knowledge of Slovenian history, cultural and natural heritage
- Educating about general cultural values and civilization stemming from the European tradition
- Educating for mutual respect, cooperation and tolerance, acceptance of diversity and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
- Developing literacy and general knowledge in literary, scientific and technical areas, mathematics, information, social sciences and the arts
- Fostering literacy and the competency to understand, communicate and express oneself in the Slovene language and, in the areas defined as ethnically mixed, also in the Italian and Hungarian languages, respectively
- Developing communication capacities in foreign languages
- Developing awareness of the complexity and interdependence of various phenomena and critical thinking
- Achieving internationally comparable knowledge standards
- Fostering pupils' talents and teaching them to understand and experience the works of art and express themselves artistically, and
- Developing entrepreneurship as a personal orientation toward effective action, innovation and creativity.
Upper secondary education
- Conveying knowledge at an internationally comparable standard
- Developing critical thinking and responsible action
- Developing linguistic capacities
- Facilitating awareness of individuals' integrity
- Developing awareness about the country of origin and national identity, and knowledge of Slovenian history and culture
- Educating for the responsible protection of freedom, for tolerant and peaceful coexistence and respect for other people
- Developing preparedness for maintaining a free, democratic and socially just state
- Facilitating awareness of responsibility for the natural environment and personal health
- Developing awareness of human and citizens' rights and responsibilities, and
- Developing talents and facilitating the experience of works of art and artistic expression.
The Gimnazija Act specified further two goals:
- Educating for sustainable development and fostering creativity, innovation and taking risks, and the ability to plan and manage projects towards the realisation of goals, and
- Promoting lifelong learning, career planning and managing.
The general upper secondary schools (gimnazije) aim to prepare pupils for the pursuit of higher education, particularly university, whereas vocational and technical schools aim to prepare pupils for specific occupations as well as for continuing education in the field. The Vocational Education Act additionally singled out the objectives of facilitating lifelong learning, educating for sustainable development and integration into the European division of labour.
Tertiary education includes short-cycle higher vocational education (higher vocational colleges) and higher education (universities, faculties, art academies and independent higher education institutions).
The Short Cycle Higher Vocational Education Act specified that the primary task of higher vocational colleges is to develop students' managerial, planning and supervision skills and vocational competencies by international standards. The key principles and objectives are lifelong learning, the inclusion of adults in education and closing the educational gap of the middle generation.
The 2011 White Paper specified three fundamental principles: social partnership, lifelong learning and the principle of “different paths to the same end”. It identified the short-cycle higher technical education as part of tertiary education with specific characteristics that stem from its role in responding to the needs of the labour market, thus, there is a strong attachment to professional or vocational education as its most challenging component.
The short-cycle higher vocational education is reasoned on occupational standards that represent a sort of request by employers for short-cycle higher vocational education. It is attached to higher education and falls in the realm of the competent national agency for quality assurance.
The law on the Slovenian qualification framework as of 2015 placed the higher vocational colleges at level VI/1 which translates to level V of the European qualifications framework. Considering citizens’ equality and the constitutionally guaranteed autonomy of HEIs, the following principles have been reflected in national policies since Slovenia's independence:
- higher education as a public good
- the right to choose study programmes under equal conditions
- equality of graduates in further studies and on the labour market and, consequently, improved mobility in Slovenia and Europe-wide
- transparency within the system of autonomous academic decision-making, and
- strengthening the status of students in the higher education administration.
The abovementioned principles are related to the general national objectives which higher education is required to implement. These include:
- efforts to promote the higher education system at the national level and to make it internationally comparable
- harmonisation with European educational standards
- transparency and responsibility of higher education institutions
- interconnectedness of research and teaching activities, and
- responsibility to apply research results to the education process, to the industry and the wider community.
General national objectives are translated into strategic objectives. These are specified for five- and ten-year periods by the National Programme of Higher Education and, in part, by the National Research and Development Programme.
The strategic goals until 2030 as set by the National Programme of Higher Education are:
- Raising the level and quality of the higher educational qualification in Slovenia
- Improving the responsiveness, flexibility and attractiveness of the higher education system irrespective of economic needs, non-economic requirements and expectations of the society
- Accelerating its integration internationally
- Improving the accessibility of education and opening up opportunities for continuous education and lifelong learning in higher education, all over Slovenia
- Increasing the intensity of research and innovation, and
- Facilitating the transfer of knowledge to the societal environment.
The White Paper (1995) highlighted numerous deficiencies in adult education. Thus, the follow-up policies had been focused on improving the systemic features of the field.
With the Lifelong learning strategy in Slovenia in 2007 the ministry responsible for education made the first step and integrated adult education into the education system. This led further to the development-related legislation, management, financing, and setting up of the network of providers and infrastructure.
The Adult Education Act is fundamental to the relevant legislation. It defines public interest in adult education and specifies:
1. Principles of public interest in adult education:
- Life-long education and learning
- Fairness and equality, as well as equal opportunities for access and achievement of learning and education results
- Freedom and autonomy in choosing the path, contents, forms, assets and methods of education
- Quality of education
- Proportional allocations for education and learning to accommodate different lifecycles
- Systemic connection between formal and non-formal education and informal learning
- Balance between general and vocational education
- Creativity and flexibility subject to specific cultural, social and educational characteristics
- Achieving national and international comparable educational standards, and
- Laity of adult education provided as public service.
2. Objectives of public interest in adult education:
Providing access to quality education and learning opportunities
- Facilitating the development of basic and vocational competencies for personal growth, active participation in a community and on a labour market
- Fostering democratic participation in social processes and socially responsible behaviour
- Empowering for sustainable development, green economy, culture and health
- Improve the competence of reciprocal tolerance, respect for differentness and cooperation, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
- Improving the skills of critical thinking of the individual and various social groups
- Improving the skills of solidary, cooperation and exchange of knowledge and experience among generations
- Fostering group work and improving the well-being of society
- Decreasing structural and individual obstacles for citizens to participate in education and learning
- Encouraging individuals with lower educational qualifications and other vulnerable groups to continue education and learning
- Decreasing the share of citizens without basic and/or vocational educational qualifications, and
- Increasing the share of citizens with completed four-year upper secondary education.
The Adult Education Act defines it as public service and specifies funding of counselling activity in adult education, namely as an independent counselling activity to support adults in decision-making about education and education and learning, as well as an activity that supplements the educational and learning process of an adult.
The public interest in adult education is defined by the national programme for adult education that is adopted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.
The vision of the national programme of adult education until 2030 is to give all and every adult citizen the same opportunities for quality education in all lifecycles. Objectives of the national programme are increasing the inclusion of adults in lifelong learning; improving the level of basic skills and common education of adults; raising the level of educational qualification, improving the skills of citizens for a successful responding to the needs of the labour market, accelerating the development and research in adult education, as well as improving in facilitating the activity in adult education.