The compulsory study of English for schoolchildren will remain in the School Act amendment, MPs decided on Tuesday, February 1, when they rejected an objection raised by President Ivan Gašparovič against the introduction of obligatory English tuition.
The president said, as quoted by the TASR newswire, that the aim of the legislation is to allow students to learn at least two foreign languages fluently. Gašparovič thinks that the amendment, however, prefers English at the expense of other languages. He also pointed to a number of foreign ambassadors to Slovakia who disagreed with giving preference to English. Education Minister Eugen Jurzyca pointed out that, not counting EU member states that use English as an official language, the study of English is already compulsory in more than half of the countries in the EU, Jurzyca pointed out.
However, his predecessor and current Slovak National Party (SNS) MP Ján Mikolaj said that none of the current classes in the national curriculum is compulsory by law. He claimed that the move smacks of politics and populism, as Slovak schools are not ready to provide high-quality English studies. SDKÚ MP Magda Vášáryová likened the shift towards English to a “civilisation change” that is coming a little too late. Aside from the compulsory English classes from Grade 3, the amendment also changes the dates of school holidays and cancels the issuing of mid-year report cards. Furthermore, it obliges the Education Ministry to provide approved textbooks to schools for free, including Braille versions. The amendment will come into effect as of March 1, 2011.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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2. Feb 2011 at 10:00