The new education minister Dusan Caplovic has some pretty strong, if not outdated, moves up his sleeves to shake up the school system, but his attention may be wrongly directed as he starts to close the doors on private schools, for instance.
One of the measures he plans is for local regional governors to decide on how many first year classes each specific school is allowed to open. This could then be used in favour of state-run schools over non-state schools, i.e. church schools, private schools and specialised schools, especially as it will be the local government that decides.
A petition against the measure, signed by the required 1,500 signatories, has now been sent to Prime Minister Robert Fico with the request to cancel the planned revision. Just now the state has no major say in the affairs of non-state schools, but now we might be witnessing a return of education backwards.
The initiative has raised a lot of concern among private and specialised schools, like the school for gifted children Cenada in Dlhe Diely in Bratislava, which was also behind a petition sent to the Prime Minister this week
Director of Cenada, Martina Mátychová, explained to TheDaily today that it is worrying that after 20 years of having dealt with all sorts, we have progressed to a situation where parents have the option to decide which school to put their child in. There are quality differences and different approaches between them, she said, adding that now they would be under a kind of dictatorship.
The argument behind the plan is to stop young people being educated for the wrong subjects, at least that is the excuse. Officially it is to keep the number of classes “in line with the regional strategy of expert education and prognoses on labour market development”.
Minister Caplovic claims that regions have been saying for some time how private schools are teaching subjects that educate people only for the unemployment lines. Caplovic believes the plan will reduce the number of unemployed school leavers and increase the efficiency of funds spent on schooling, but many would disagree.
As soon as Caplovic took up his ministerial post, he announced that no new schools would be accredited, leaving some schools with pending applications in limbo land.
MP Martin Poliacik from the Freedom and Solidarity party (SaS) says minister Caplovic has surrounded himself with people and steps that will deliver the strongest blow to the modernisation of the Slovak school system. He says the move will take us back to the kind of normalisation methods used in the 1970s under communist rule. “Once again the whole school curriculum will be made uniform for the whole of Slovakia – anything that is inventive, new or modern will simply be suppressed” said Poliacik.