Slovenian community in Croatia in need of Slovenian teachers

Zagreb, 20 September - Although the Slovenian community in Croatia is entitled by law to Slovenian lessons in schools, this right is often denied to students due to lack of Slovenian teachers. The Bregana primary school has been without a Slovenian teacher for while, so 35 students cannot learn Slovenian.

Zagreb, Croatia
Primary school students.
Photo: Hina/STA

Under the so-called model C of teaching Slovenian, Croatia guarantees Slovenian lessons that are equally graded as other subjects and are part of the curriculum.

However, due to lack of Slovenian teachers this right cannot be secured in Bregana, but also in some other schools, including in Umag and Buzet, where currently under-qualified persons are teaching Slovenian.

In Rijeka, it took a while for the school to find a teacher while the secondary school in Pula was looking for a Slovenian teacher for two years before abolishing Slovenian lessons altogether.

Now, the students can learn Slovenian at the Slovenian Culture Association Istria in Pula.

"Nowadays, even before we start talking about including Slovenian in a school programme, the head teacher asks whether we have a person who would teach Slovenian," said Barbara Riman, the head of the Union of Slovenian Associations in Croatia.

The problem is that a Slovenian teacher must meet several requirements. "Ideally, it should be someone who has studied in Slovenia and has their degree nostrified in Croatia," Riman said.

But anyone who has studied Slovenian, history, geography or form teaching can become a teacher of Slovenian in Croatian schools immediately, she said.

Those who do not meet all these conditions are considered under-qualified and cannot get an open-ended contract and a full-time job. They need to get their contract extended every five months and receive 25% lower monthly pay, which Riman says does not motivate people for the job.

Still, these replacements, Slovenian native speakers, are "saving Slovenian for now", she said.

To get full pay, however, the teachers of Slovenian often teach some other classes as well or teach Slovenian at several schools.

Riman pointed to a teacher who works at four schools and another who teaches Slovenian part-time and has another part-time job.

This is one of the reasons, while this job is not very appealing, and the other is pay. Since the teachers are paid by Croatia they receive lower monthly pay than teachers do in Slovenia, so many teachers prefer driving to Slovenia to work.

Still, the Slovenian community would not like to give up their right to have the teachers funded by Croatia.

Riman believes the Slovenian and Croatian education ministries should get together to find a solution to overcome this ever growing issue.

The Slovenian ministry said it was monitoring the situation closely, noting that six teachers of the Slovenian language and culture in Croatia were being fully funded by the Slovenian ministry.

In addition to the supplementary Slovenian language and culture classes, the Slovenian ministry also finances the Slovenian language classes in the Varaždin county, where the current model of teaching is in the process of reorganisation.

Currently, the ministry is also looking for candidates for supplementary Slovenian classes in Zagreb and Rijeka, and in Bregana in cooperation with the Union of Slovenian Associations in Croatia.

© STA, 2022