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School system waits to see changes

Compulsory education from the age of five, more demanding admission exams to university teaching programmes, or rising teachers’ salaries. Education Minister Peter Plavčan introduced his draft national education programme in October.

Children should start compulsory schooling at the age of five.(Source: SME - Tibor Somogyi)

The Slovak education system has been in crisis for years, with teachers demanding not just more money but also systemic reform of the system. Will the ministry’s latest plan bring long-expected changes for the better?

After months of protests and various forms of strikes, teachers at Slovak schools have not seen their demands fulfilled. The Education Ministry under Peter Plavcan has failed to raise their salaries to the level they have been requesting. But now, the ministry has devised 21 pages of plans that are to become the basis for reform. The reform should be completed in ten years’ time. By then, for example, pupils at Slovak schools will start their schooling one year earlier and finish one year later than they do now.

Branislav Kočan from the Slovak Teachers' Initiative (ISU) civic association which stands behind the recent strikes, thinks that some of the goals should have already been reached, and admits that he and his colleagues are sceptical about the reform plans.

Why will the compulsory education be prolonged? How can the ministry make teachers' job more attractive?

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