Slovenian minority wants to have say in Austrian school curricula

Klagenfurt, 21 July - Taking issue with certain decisions of the Austrian authorities, an umbrella Slovenian minority organisation in the state of Carinthia has asked that minority representatives be included in the creation of new curricula for Austrian schools. It also wants bilingual administrative business be ensured in courts in several towns in Carinthia.

The Community of Carinthian Slovenians (SKS) said in a press release on Friday that its executive committee had unanimously condemned the idea of the Austrian Education Ministry to abolish a second foreign language in vocational schools, which is currently mandatory in all five years until the matura school-leaving exam.

The SKS noted that this would mean the end of the languages of national minorities at commerce academies, adding that such ideas did not only run against the protective provisions for the minority and regional languages, but also against the needs of the economy, as English as the only foreign language was not enough.

The organisation has demanded that Slovenian minority representatives be immediately included in the ongoing creation of new curricula for Austrian schools.

The SKS executive board has also requested changes to the law on private schools that would enable subsidies for ethnic minorities and legal and financial guarantees for access to bilingual and multilingual education throughout Austria, especially in Vienna.

This would ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of the Austrian constitution and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which Austria has ratified, it added.

Austrian Education Minister Martin Polaschek has been urged, as the minority education legislation is being amended, to include elementary pedagogy and thus ensure the promotion of bilingual and multilingual primary education in the sense of Article 7 of the Austrian State Treaty of 1955.

The SKS has also demanded that bilingual administrative business be expanded and ensured in the local courts in Villach, Klagenfurt and Völkermarkt and in the regional court in Klagenfurt.

It argues that, by doing so, the Austrian state would exercise the rights of the Slovenian ethnic minority guaranteed by the Austrian State Treaty after many decades. The closure of the local courts was never requested by the minority, it added.

The organisation also noted that the regional court in Klagenfurt was discriminating against Austrian citizens, as the Slovenian language was allowed for EU citizens, but not for members of the Slovenian ethnic minority.

© STA, 2023