Minister pledges help to Slovenian-Argentinian school

Ljubljana, 23 January - The parliamentary Commission for the Relations with Slovenians Abroad unanimously called on the government on Tuesday to find a way to help a Slovenian-Argentinian school in Mendoza, Argentina, overcome financial issues. Competent Minister Matej Arčon vowed that his office will not let the private school down.

Minister for Slovenians Abroad Matej Arčon.
Photo: Bor Slana/STA
File photo

The minister for Slovenians abroad and his office are making sure the school Colegio Esloveno Anton Martin Slomšek, which was established in 2011, is getting regular co-funding.

The private Spanish-language school is enrolling children from kindergarten to secondary school, and one of the classes it offers is Slovenian culture.

Roughly a third of its students and a quarter of its staff are descendants of Slovenian immigrants, the minister noted. The school's funding comes from donations and tuition fees, and the only source of public funding is the funds from Slovenia.

The office was recently informed that the school may close. According to Družina, a Slovenian Roman Catholic magazine, "the only Slovenian school in Latin America" faces potential closure due to the current economic crisis in Argentina. The students' parents of Slovenian heritage are no longer able to pay tuition, which totals some EUR 50 a month, the weekly said.

The school asked the office for more funds last October and was granted its request, which at the time did not reflect the actual severity of the situation, the office said.

Colegio Esloveno Anton Martin Slomšek received EUR 11,000 in state funds in 2023, almost double the figure in 2022 - EUR 6,000, which was still more than what the office earmarks for minority-run Saturday schools in Argentina on average.

In order to get better acquainted with the situation, Arčon met with the school's management on Thursday. Today he welcomed a campaign launched by Caritas Slovenia to raise donations for the school, and promised his office will not let the school down.

If necessary, Slovenia will step in by allocating emergency funds to help raise EUR 50,000, a sum that is needed to keep the school open.

Jože Šmon, a representative of the school, and Mariana Poznič, a representative of a Slovenian minority organisation in Argentina, took part in today's session of the parliamentary commission via videolink to help further explain the situation.

All members of the commission then called on the government to come up with a solution to this issue. The largest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS) proposed that Slovenia continue to promote and financially support the Slovenian language among Slovenian communities abroad, a proposal that was endorsed. Coalition MPs abstained though, saying that the government was already doing this.

The school was established by the foundation SLO, a group of individuals committed to providing quality education for Slovenian and Argentinian children and raising them in a culture of Slovenian values, Družina said. Since 2011, 360 students have attended the school, and 125 are currently enrolled.

© STA, 2024