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Schools to receive little in funding

SLOVAKIA’S schools will directly receive only a small portion of the money allocated for education from the European Union’s structural funds. Of the €280 million, 8 percent, i.e. €35 million, will go straight into the hands of teachers, pupils and schools. The largest amount, up to €160 million (57 percent), will be spent on big public procurements, while €95.2 million (34 percent) will remain in the ministerial institutions that manage the projects, said MP for the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) Miroslav Beblavý, as reported by the SITA newswire, on September 6.

SLOVAKIA’S schools will directly receive only a small portion of the money allocated for education from the European Union’s structural funds. Of the €280 million, 8 percent, i.e. €35 million, will go straight into the hands of teachers, pupils and schools. The largest amount, up to €160 million (57 percent), will be spent on big public procurements, while €95.2 million (34 percent) will remain in the ministerial institutions that manage the projects, said MP for the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) Miroslav Beblavý, as reported by the SITA newswire, on September 6.

Moreover, Beblavý believes that the majority of money distributed through ministerial institutions will be spent inefficiently.

“The Education Ministry has two primary possibilities for distributing money from structural funds,” Beblavý said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “It can give it to schools through competitions, so-called ‘applications’, or it can directly give it to its own ministerial institution, its clerks.”

Beblavý added that while two previous ministers, Eugen Jurzyca (SDKÚ) and Ján Mikolaj (Slovak National Party [SNS]), tried to distribute the money from structural funds between the competition projects for schools and direct orders to the ministry’s institutions equally, current minister Dušan Čaplovič has given nearly all the funds to offices running under his department, according to SITA.

The MP also said that €280 million might be used to buy a computer or tablet for every pupil or teacher, or for a one-off payment of €4,307 to every teacher.

Instead, 34 percent of the whole package will go to ministerial institutions, with most of the money being spent on the salaries and equipment of the people managing the projects. The money planned to be used for procurements is also being wasted, Beblavý said, adding that the state either pays for things which are useless or pays too much for procured goods and services, as reported by SITA.

The Education Ministry responded that Beblavý demonstrated a great depth of ignorance of EU funding, despite the fact that in the past he served as state secretary and was very close to the management of the education department under the leadership of ex-minister Eugen Jurzyca, a nominee of Beblavý’s party.

“He should at least know that it is not possible to turn the EU funding into payrolls for teachers in the way he is trying to imply,” Michal Kaliňák, spokesperson for the Education Ministry, wrote in an official release, adding that “if it was so, then we do not understand why he did not carry out such measures under the rule of the right wing”.

The ministry also claimed that Beblavý is seeking ways to cast doubt on the state’s success in drawing money from structural funds at levels exceeding what had been reached during the rule of Jurzyca.

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