Pre-school education reform in focus as minister visits Klagenfurt

Klagenfurt, 8 November - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon met representatives of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Austria during a visit to Klagenfurt on Tuesday. They discussed reform of the pre-school education as well as economic cooperation between Slovenia and minority communities in neighbouring countries.

"The key topic of today's meeting was reform of pre-school education, which we as the office and all the organisations present find vital for the preservation of the Slovenian language, identity and culture," the minister said after the meeting at the Slovenian Consulate General in Klagenfurt.

The minority organisations will submit their remarks within ten days, which will be sent to the Carinthian authorities, to be followed by activities, if necessary meetings with Carinthia Governor Peter Kaiser and bilateral meetings between the Slovenian education minister and the respective Carinthian minister.

Turning to business cooperation with Slovenia's minority in the neighbouring countries, Arčon announced that a business association would be founded in Slovenia's Lipica in December to link business organisations of the Slovenian communities in Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy.

The association would be modelled on Agraslomak, which has been linking Slovenian minority agricultural organisations for years, the Office for Slovenians Abroad added in a press release.

The minister also notified minority officials that the office was planning to organise meetings with representatives of umbrella organisations of ethnic Slovenians in all four neighbouring countries to exchange opinions, experiences and best practices, which the umbrella organisations welcomed.

"We find it very important to link umbrella organisations in the field of economy with the home country and with organisations worldwide," the minister said.

"We'll be meeting four times a year to share experiences, exchange best practice and understand the communities' needs so that coordination can run at different levels, and I'm very happy that the umbrella organisations have welcomed this mode of action," he added.

At the meeting minority officials presented concrete plans and goals that they would like to realise in the next three months for the benefit of the Slovenian community.

The minister was accompanied by State Secretary Vesna Humar and Consul General Anton Novak.

The meeting noted challenges of providing quality bilingual pre-school education and touched on bilingual judiciary and visual bilinguality. It also discussed the minority in Styria.

Arčon also visited Radio Agora, which airs daily Slovenian radio programme, and the publisher Mohorjeva Družba and its Slomšek House, which is home to a private bilingual nursery, a kindergarten and a student dorm.

© STA, 2022