EC: Funds for education still low

A recent report criticises the financing of education, salaries for teachers and also large regional disparities.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

Slovakia still allocates little money for education and the salaries of teachers are low. This stems from the Education and Training Monitor 2017 published by the European Commission.

Slovakia is aiming to develop a more strategic central steering of education policies, the EC points out.

At the same time, it reminds that the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 results showed a decline in basic skills and a high level of inequality, with low achievement strongly linked to socioeconomic background. While the EU average share of low achievers in science in the economic, social and cultural status bottom quartile in the 2015 PISA report is 33.8 percent, in Slovakia the share is 49.9 percent.

Moreover, there are large regional disparities, particularly affecting the Roma community, the EC wrote in the report.

Low salaries despite higher funds

“Teachers are insufficiently paid and their status is low, limiting the attractiveness of the profession,” the EC pointed out. “Their continuing professional development is not sufficiently targeted to development needs.”

Moreover, initial teacher education is not clearly focused on preparing for practical teaching, the EC wrote.

It also informed that though Slovakia was in the group of countries that saw a 5-percent increase in public expenditures on education (while the EU average was only 1 percent) education continues to be relatively underfunded at all levels.

On the other hand, Slovakia’s tertiary attainment rate has made substantial progress.

The EC report, however, suggests that quality assurance of higher education does not yet meet international standards, the sector is insufficiently internationalised and lacks a professionally oriented short-cycle study offer.

Numbers in education during early childhood are low

As for the participation in early childhood education and care, the report shows that while in most member states over 90 percent of children in this age group participate, in Slovakia it is only 78.4 percent.

Moreover, while in the EU the average participation of children younger than 3 years of age was 30.3 percent in 2015, in Slovakia it is less than 15 percent. The country also saw a significant decrease in the numbers compared with 2012, the EC report suggests.

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