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The Slovenia K-12 Education System-Basic and Secondary Education

The Ministry of Education of the Republic of Slovenia is responsible for the K-12 education system. Slovenian citizens are provided free education in Slovenia. Basic education is compulsory in Slovenia.

The Slovenian K-12 education system comprises of
  • Pre-school education
  • Basic education that encompasses primary and lower secondary education
  • Upper secondary education that consists of secondary general education and vocational and technical education

Slovenia K-12 Education System

Pre-school Education

Pre-school education in Slovenia is imparted by play schools, kindergartens and other pre-school institutions. Children at the pre-school are given complete care that includes educational activities and programmes, meals and rest.
Pre-school education in Slovenia is not mandatory. In Slovenia, there are both public and private pre-schools. The pre-schools work towards the overall development of the child’s intellectual, physical and moral abilities. 
  • Ages: 1 to 6
Children below 2 years go to creche. In creche there is 1 teacher along with 1 assistant teacher. Children aged 2 to 5 may attend pre-school group

Financing: Pre-schools are managed and funded by the municipalities. Public pre-schools are funded by the local communities, from national budget, from parent’s contributions, and other sources.

School timings: The timing of the pre-schools in Slovenia varies. Generally, they run from 5:30 am- 4 pm and 5 days a week. Some pre-schools are open till 8 pm.

Curriculum: Language, health care, art, physical exercise, traffic education, mathematics, ethics education, society and nature. 

Types of Programmes: Pre-schools in Slovenia offer different types of programmes, such as short programmes, preschool education at home, and day programmes.  

Basic Education

Basic education is compulsory in Slovenia for all the children living in the Republic of Slovenia. Basic education is imparted by elementary schools and it lasts for 9 years.
  • Ages: 6 to 15
Basic education encompasses primary and lower secondary education. This educational level is split up into three cycles:
  • First cycle: Consists of grades 1 to 3. In this cycle, both the classroom teacher and kindergarten teacher works together. 
  • Second cycle: Consists of grades 4 to 6. In this cycle, there is classroom ad well as subject teaching.
  • Third cycle: Consists of grades 7 to 9. In this cycle, there is only subject teaching.
Basic education aims to develop the mathematical and literacy skills, and also develops the students socially, intellectually and emotionally. It also helps the students to communicate in the Slovene language; and teach about the history and culture of the country. 

Curriculum: Mathematics, history, Slovene language, geography, foreign language, natural sciences, music, environmental education, social sciences, visual arts, physics, physical education, chemistry, technology, civics and ethics, home economics and optional subjects. 

Financing: Basic education in Slovenia is free of charge and covers health insurance and medical checkups. Children with special needs and young ones are given free conveyance. All the students are given free transportation to school if the distance between their school and place of residence is more than 4 km. 

School timings: The basic school year commences on 1 September and concludes on 31 August of the following year. The school year is split up into 2 terms. Lessons are given 5 days per week, and for 38 weeks per year. In between the terms, are the holidays- summer holidays for 10 days, autumn break, New Year and Christmas break, winter vacations and other national holidays. 

Classes start at 8:00 am from Monday to Friday. Generally, lessons last for 45 minutes. The total no. of hours of lessons (22 lessons) per week for 1st cycle is 16.5 hours;
For 2nd cycle is 19.5 hours, and total no. of lessons are 26
For 3rd cycle is 22.5 hours, and no. of lessons are 30

Day care facilities are provided for children in grades 1 to 4 till 3 or 4:00 pm. Also, several extracurricular activities are held after school or before school, i.e. early in the morning.  Activities such as sports or cultural activities are held. 

Upper Secondary Education

Upper secondary education in Slovenia is not compulsory.
  • Ages: 15 to 18
The duration of upper secondary education varies depending upon the types of secondary education undertaken. The upper secondary education prepares students for higher education or for employment. 
Upper secondary education is split up into:
  • General upper-secondary education 
  • Vocational and technical upper-secondary education 
Admission requirement: Students must have completed basic education in order to gain admittance into the upper secondary education. 

General Upper Secondary Education

The general secondary education is known as Gimnazije. The general secondary education prepares students for tertiary education. It develops the skills and knowledge, critical thinking abilities, and social and moral responsibility.
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Ages: 15-18
Examination: At the end of the general education programme, students are required to sit for an external exam called “Matura examination”. Students who pass the exam are eligible for higher education
Students who have not completed the general education level and do not want to go for further education, they can gain vocational and professional skills by doing a short vocational programme of 1 year. This programme enables them to enter the job market.

Types of Courses

General secondary education offer different types of programmes. Gimnazije is split up into 2 categories: 

Gimnazije with no specific area of study, though some classes as per the special interest are conducted.

Specialist gimnazije: In this, general education programmes with specialisations are provided, such as-
  • Technical gimnazije that provides different technical subjects from various technical domains, like computer science, engineering, construction and building, electrical engineering, etc.;
  • Gimnazije specialized in economics
  • Gimnazije specialized in arts: comprises of arts, music, theatre, dance and drama
In Slovenia, there are 2 other general upper-secondary schools that provide the 2-year International Baccalaureate study programmes in Year 3 and 4 of general secondary education (gimnazij) and the International school course in English language. 

** EU/EEA citizens are entitled to obtain general upper secondary education under the same conditions as Slovenian nationals. 

Curriculum: Compulsory subjects, computer sciences, Slovenian language and literature, physical education, mathematics, psychology, first foreign language, history, biology, second foreign language, art education, sociology, geography, chemistry, philosophy, and physics, and other optional subjects. 

Elective subjects comprises of third foreign language, arts, history or any other subject as per the national core curriculum.

Financing: General secondary education is free of charge. Private gimnazije get public financing. They charge admission fee from pupils.

School timings: There are 45 minutes lessons along with practical and project work and exercise. 
No. of lessons:  32 to 36 lessons per week 
Teaching time: 5 days per week and 38 weeks per school year

Vocational and Technical Upper Secondary Education

Upper secondary vocational and technical education is split up into broad vocational or technical disciplines with different types of courses. The duration of the courses varies.  

The vocational and technical education develops specific skills and knowledge required for a particular profession. This educational level prepares students for higher studies and lifelong learning, or for labour market.

Short-term Vocational Programmes

There are short-term vocational programmes that last for 1.5 years for pupils who hold a basic education completion certificate; and it lasts for 2.5 years for pupils who do not hold the basic education certificate.
The short-term vocational programmes conclude with a final examination. Students who pass the examination are given a final examination certificate that allows them to go for an upper secondary vocational programme or for employment.

Upper Secondary Vocational Education

Students who have completed basic education can go for secondary vocational education that lasts for 3 years.
Students at the end of the programme must sit for the final examination and those who pass get a final examination certificate. This certificate allows pupils to enter the job market or to go for further studies in 2-year vocational-technical programmes.

Adults, who possess a secondary vocational qualification and have a minimum of 3 years of work experience, can go for secondary technical education by undertaking a master foreman, craftsman, or managerial exam with the competent organization.

Vocational-Technical Programmes

 These programmes last for 4 years and develop knowledge and skills in a particular profession. This educational level prepares apprentices and pupils for a particular trade or profession.  At the end of the programme, students must sit for a poklicna matura examination and those who pass can go for higher vocational education or for employment.
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