Bratislava, Slovakia – Slovakia’s education system is riddled with deficiencies, according to an EU report.
Weaknesses of Slovakia’s education system
The 2018 Education and Training Monitor, the European Commission’s flagship annual report on the state of education in all 28 Member states, underlined significant shortcomings of the state of education in Slovakia.
First of all, Slovakia doesn’t give itself the means to reach its goals and create a truly meritocratic system: the country’s investments in education remain well below OECD and EU average, while the performance of pupils continue to be strongly linked to the children’s family and socioeconomic background, according to the report showed.
The EU’s executive body also called for Slovakia to earmark additional investments in order to upgrade, modernize and strengthen the international dimension and foreign outreach of Slovakia’s higher education institutions.
Tellingly, Slovakia has no university ranked among the top 10 best in Central Europe, with Comenius University and the Slovak University of Technology ranked only 12th and 13th among Visegrad Group countries.
Slovakia only meets one goal of the EU’s 2020 agenda in education
The EU’s Education and Training Monitor specifically tracks performances of every country regarding 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 European Commission. However, the proportion of early leavers in Slovakia has been steadily increasing since 2010, compared to a decreasing trend in the rest of the EU.
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 the target of 34%. The proportion of pupils under 15 underachieving in reading (32%), math (28%) and science (31%) is also above EU average and 2020 targets.
On a more positive note, however, Slovakia is on the verge of reaching the bloc’s target for a share of 82% of employment of recent graduates (81.5% in 2018).
“Populist measures” in education in the spotlight
Slovakia’s opposition was quick to react to these findings. Quoted by local Sme daily, Zuzana Zimenova (SaS) slammed the “populist measures” implemented by the current government which, according to her, fails to address the core-issues at the heart of the country’s education system’s failure.
Among those controversial measures, the government’s “free lunch at school” scheme is to take effect next year and has prompted mixed reactions in Slovakia.
The opposition lawmaker also argued that Slovakia lacked any national strategy to truly implement a merit-based education system and help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds overcome social and financial barriers.