European, global and intercultural dimension in curriculum development
To position education in the international arena is one of the guiding principles of the Slovenian education system. Educational institutions in Slovenia have the possibility to introduce mobility directly into the school programme and annual work plan.
The Organisation and Financing of Education Act (.pdf, en) specified under basic goals of education and training:
- facilitating integration into the European integration processes, and
- education and training for sustainable development and for active inclusion in a democratic society, including in-depth knowledge and a responsible attitude towards oneself, own health, other people, own and other cultures, natural and social environment, and towards future generations.
The White Paper on Education 2011 (.pdf, sl) as a strategic document for the development of education sets out under the general principles of education and training human rights, autonomy, fairness and quality. The principle of the provision of quality education, in line with the interpretation of the White Paper, includes consideration of the need for quality education to provide a level of knowledge internationally comparable to that of other countries, while respecting and ensuing from the cultural historical traditions on which Slovenia is based, and taking into account its positioning in the European social, cultural and political environment.
As a challenge and guideline for the development of the system, the White Paper also refers to the need to include global education that leads to personal and collective global responsibilities and the ethics of the citizens of the world at all levels of education. The reference point for the development of the intercultural dimension of the curricula is the recommendation that it is necessary to ensure a sufficient scope of learning about other peoples, cultures, traditions, religions (literature of different peoples and cultures, history, geography...) in the curricula, and learning foreign languages.
Children start learning multiculturalism already in kindergarten and it is an integral part of lifelong learning in Slovenia. Kindergartens and basic schools carry out many projects, including those with an international dimension, with many kindergartens offering early language learning.
The most basic school subject-curricula include the European dimension and it is a cross-curricular content and connections. The European dimension, which sometimes includes explicit European Union content, is most often seen in basic-school curricula (ISCED 1 and 2) in subjects such as learning about environment, society, history, geography, citizenship and homeland culture and ethics. Various intercultural aspects are also included in the teaching of compulsory and optional subjects of foreign languages. In gimnazije (ISCED 3, general education), the intercultural dimensions are covered with the learning standards of subjects such as history, geography, sociology, philosophy, Slovenian and foreign languages, as well as the compulsory optional content of education for peace. In upper secondary vocational and technical education (ISCED 3), in subjects of history, geography and sociology, Slovenian and foreign languages.
It is compulsory to learn at least one foreign language in upper-secondary technical education, and two in gimnazija programmes. In the open curriculum, schools can offer more foreign languages, in line with the interests of upper secondary students, tertiary students and economy. An additional module on intercultural competences has been developed for upper secondary and tertiary students to prepare for international mobility. Upper secondary and tertiary students improve their foreign language skills and learn about the culture of the country in which they plan to study.
Under the law and bilateral agreements, basic schools can organise extracurricular lessons of home languages and culture for migrant children or members of other national communities in Slovenia, the primary purpose of which is to nurture and promote mother tongue learning.
In vocational education, participation in the Copenhagen Process has an important influence on the reform of the curriculum. New subject-curricula are adaptive, modular and competence-based. One of the objectives is to strengthen the European dimension to prepare students to work in an international environment. The credit system makes it possible to combine learning pathways (this includes studying abroad). The Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education (CPI) coordinates activities related to the Europass certificates.
For over two decades now, the International Baccalaureate programme has been provided at certain Slovenian gimanzije, namely for students in the last two years. The programme takes 2 years to complete. It is designed to allow students after they complete the examination to apply to any university at home and at numerous universities around the world.
Partnerships and networks
Cooperation in the form of partnerships and networks takes place primarily in the context of the European Erasmus+ programme. Slovenia participates in the Key Action 2 — Strategic Partnership in education, training and youth. Strategic partnerships in school education aim to expand the European dimension of education through the participation of kindergartens and schools in Europe. Participation in the partnership of kindergartens or schools from different countries offers opportunities to broaden horizons, professional development, intercultural dimension and increase quality both at the level of the individual (education staff or student), as well as at the level of the organisation and even beyond. Projects can only be implemented between schools and kindergartens, but may also involve other organisations and, as a result, develop the whole field of general education up to higher education. Strategic partnerships in the area of vocational education and training (VET) link educational institutions (vocational schools), businesses and social partners in activities at the international level, as well as local level. Since 2010, Slovenia has participated in more than 100 VET projects. As part of Erasmus +, the European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET) project is also ongoing through which the quality of vocational education is developed in Slovenia and Europe.
Slovenian schools are active in the e-Twinning action, as well. The action is the support activity of the Erasmus+ programme in the field of school education (general and vocational) designed to support and promote the use of modern ICT in education and training systems. The Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Education and Training Schemes (CMEPIUS) assists in the development and implementation of virtual partnership projects that enable the participation of teachers and learners from different countries. Slovenia is an observer country in the European Schoolnet which supports cooperation between European ministries of education and links school networks at national level. Its primary objective is to promote innovation and the effective use of modern ICT in learning and teaching.
The UNESCO Associated Schools Network has the world’s longest tradition among school associations. It brings together around 11.500 educational institutions from 182 countries. It promotes a new understanding of global links in the current world, in which education plays the most important role in promoting a culture of peace and harmony.
The National Education Institute Slovenia, the main developer of subject-curricula for general education, participates in various international educational projects and networks. One of them is the Environment and School Initiatives (ENSI) which has been supporting the development of education, environmental awareness, active learning and teaching since 1986 in line with the research findings and the international exchange of experience. It is also member of the Consortium of Institutions for Development and Research in Europe (CIDREE), a network of educational bodies which play an important role in the development of national education programmes or research in education.
Slovenia is also involved with the Centre Européen pour le Développement de la Formation Professionnelle (Cedefop).The European educational foundation has entrusted the National Observatory of Slovenia at CPI with the role of the national coordinator.
The CPI is involved in supporting and developing vocational and professional education in the countries of South East Europe: in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia. They organise study visits, and the CPI professional staff assist with their rich know-how in the development of vocational education and vocational training in those countries.