The latest findings of the 2018 Education and Training Monitor, the European Commission’s flagship annual report on the state of education in all 28 Member states, highlighted important deficiencies and shortcomings in Slovakia’s education system.
While the country’s investments in education remain well below OECD and EU average, the performance of pupils appear significantly linked to the children’s family and socioeconomic background, the report showed. The EU’s executive body advocated more investments in order to upgrade, modernize and strengthen the international dimension of Slovakia’s higher education institutions.
The EU Education and Training Monitor specifically tracks performances of every country as regards the six main education targets of the Europe 2020 agenda. Out of the six objectives, Slovakia only meets one: the share of early leavers from education and training (aged 18-24) stands at 9.3%, slightly below the 10% cap set by the EU Commission. However, the proportion of early leavers has been steadily increasing since 2010 in Slovakia, compared to a decreasing trend in the rest of the bloc.
In all other areas, Slovakia currently fails to reach the European Union’s 2020 targets. The tertiary education attainment rate (aged 30-34) remains much lower than ambitioned at 34%. The proportion of pupils under 15 underachieving in reading (32%), maths (28%) and science (31%) is also above EU average and 2020 targets. Slovakia is however on the verge of reaching the bloc’s target for a share of 82% of employment of recent graduates (81.5% today).
Slovakia’s opposition was quick to react to these findings. Quoted by local Sme daily, Zuzana Zimenova (SaS) criticized the “populist measures” implemented by the current government which fails to address the core-issues of the country’s educational system and insisted on the lack of national strategy for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to overcome social barriers. Among those controversial measures, the government’s “free lunch at school” scheme is to take effect next year and has prompted mixed reactions across the Central European country.