Who is the new education minister? The successful academician is unknown in regional education

The new education minister is Martina Lubyová of the Academy of Sciences. Some of her friends were surprised by her connection to SNS.

Education Minister, Martina LubyováEducation Minister, Martina Lubyová (Source: SITA)

She is well-educated, interested in the problems of the marginalised Roma communities; but not much is known about her in the regional education network.

The choice of the coalition SNS party: having Martina Lubyová of the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) for education minister, surprised even some of her current colleagues.

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“It was a surprise, I wouldn’t have thought of it,” said the head of SAV Pavol Šajgalík. He argues by saying Lubyová has only recently been elected to the Academy’s Board. Her leaving for the ministerial position means that her seat on the Board will remain vacant.

The education sector belongs among those most troubled in the long term, where ministers keep changing almost every single year. It thus requires not just

professionally apt leadership but also determination and power to push through reform solutions. Lubyová is well cut out for that, according to the SAV head.

“She is a very determined lady who applies the wording of the laws and the rights in everyday life. She was among the first to pressure for the merging of SAV institutes. She has a pro-reform zeal,” Šajgalík says about her.

In the past, she led the Prognostic Institute of SAV, and less than two years ago she initiated its merger with other institutes into the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences, in which she has been a deputy president.

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“She was the driving force behind it – she thinks with an eye toward the future,” Šajgalík describes.

She can be better than her predecessors

Lubyová has stayed out of politics until now. As a researcher, she mainly focuses on migration, the labour market and lifelong education.

She studied in Bratislava, Prague and New York, worked for ten years in the International Labour Organization as a specialist for the development of employment for Asia, eastern Europe and central Asia. She is the daughter of the famous physicist and former head of SAV, Štefan Luby.

SNS sought a replacement for the recalled minister Peter Plavčan, who ended his position due to the strange allocation of EU-funds for science and research for more than three weeks. Party chairman Andrej Danko announced on September 11 that Lubyová would be the new minister.

It is important that SNS finally found the person to lead the ministry, political analyst Pavol Baboš opined. By the time Lubyová was leading the SAV Prognostic Institute, Baboš was also working there as a researcher.

“It is also good that the ministry will be headed by a person acquainted with the problems of the education sector,” he adds. Her long-time foreign experience is, according to him, a pre-requisite for her being a better minister than her predecessors.

The currently independent opposition MP Miroslav Beblavý has not been surprised by SNS’ Danko trying to use Lubyová as a kind of shield, or a shop window. “I’m surprised, though, by her wish to use SNS as a shield, or a shop window,” he explained. Beblavý has known her for almost 20 years and considers her an experienced academician who has managerial experience.

Sme failed to get a comment from Lubyová. She did not answer a text message and later her phone was switched off.

She did not deal with regional schools

While Lubyová is considered a successful researcher in the academic sphere, her name is unknown in the regional school system.

“I’m hearing her name for the first time,” commented teacher Juraj Hipš of the Comenius Institute, who informally trains teachers.

The regional education system is the biggest problem in the sector, according to him. The new minister should be a top manager and expert in this field. Hipš added that he is sceptical after SNS’s previous picks concerning education ministers.

It is not Lubyová’s fault that she accepted the offer from SNS, Jarmila Lajčáková of the Centre for Research of Ethnicity and Culture. She knows Lubyová’s work. “Since the SNS’ reputation is the way it is, it takes a certain courage. But if all clever people react with a ‘no’ we would get nowhere,” she opines.

Lajčáková considers the new education minister to be a well-informed, professionally skilled and educated woman with experience abroad. “I don’t know her managerial skills but she has credibility in professional circles,” she says. According to her, Lubyová also deals with marginalised social groups and is well aware of the fact that developing their education and skills is one of the conditions for the country to function well.

But Šajgalík is not aware of Lubyová’s professional activities in the regional school system. “I don’t even know at what age levels her children are, when we touch on the regional school system,” the SAV head notes.

However, he points to her legal education, based on which she was elected to chair of the law commission tasked with preparing the great amendment to the law on SAV.

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