The Slovenian Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Dr Maja Makovec Brenčič, shared with EPALE how her country has been implementing its adult education policy, what has worked well, and what challenges lie ahead.
I was delighted that the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN) chose to hold its Annual Conference in Slovenia and that the Ministry for Education, Science and Sport with the Institute for Adult Learning were able to host such an important and active network or representatives, policy makers and experts from countries all over Europe. The conference came at a significant time for adult learning in Slovenia, as we were waiting for the release of Slovenia’s PIAAC results and continued the implementation of the National Adult Education Master Plan (NAEMP) 2013–2020.
The policy and strategy for adult education, as set out in the NAEMP, are formulated similarly to those in the Council Resolution on a renewed European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL) 2012–2014. This applies especially to the promotion of the involvement of adults in all forms of education and learning.
I strongly believe that Slovenia has much to gain by taking an active part in the EU Agenda for Adult Learning.
Slovenia set the following targets in the NAEMP:
- Raising the education level of the population and the level of basic skills
- Increasing the employability of the active population
- Improving the scope of learning and involvement in education.
- Improving the general education of the population.
The measures and instruments developed as part of the NAEMP seek to strengthen social cohesion and ensure equal opportunities within the labour market for vulnerable and disadvantage groups. The greatest challenge in this process is the development of a proper network of public institutions to provide guidance and counselling for adults to encourage them to engage in lifelong learning and enrol in basic skill courses – a necessary first step to accessing further vocational education and other learning. To achieve this we need to raise adults’ self-confidence and independence in order for them to participate actively in the labour market, but also in civil society.
Slovenia has now participated in two international adult skill surveys: the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS 1998-2000) and the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competences (PIAAC 2013-2016). We have also learnt from and been inspired by practices in other EU countries with traditions in basic skills and literacy development. However, much of the research and data received by the NAEMP has come from the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE), the main public institute in the field of adult education in Slovenia.
Through this process of learning we have come to appreciate the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation in addressing this complex and countrywide issue.
A national coordination body, led by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, has been established and six ministries have become involved in preparing for the next steps following the release of the PIAAC results.
Cooperation among ministries in Slovenia has also been a strength of our Skills Strategy project, co-financed by the European Commission and led by the OECD. Slovenia has the highest number of ministries involved (8) among countries developing a Skills Strategy. The Skills Strategy project involves capacity building between the ministries and stakeholders involved to create a further common and intertwined policy orientation in relation to skills development and adult education in the country.
During 2013-2015 the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education coordinated national activities relating to the implementation of the EU Agenda for Adult Learning in Slovenia, where special emphasis was put on raising adults’ basic skills. For the new period of 2015-2017 we will focus on awareness raising, motivation and professional development, and we’ll pay special attention to the low-qualified/skilled, the unemployed, the elderly, young adults (early school leavers), migrants and other educationally disadvantaged groups. Furthermore, special emphasis is being placed on stimulating the supply of non-formal educational programs for basic skills and other key competences and approaches tailored to the needs of these learners. At the EBSN conference we were able to share many interesting cases of local implementation of national policy and you can read more about these on EPALE.
The Slovenian Ministry for Education, Science and Sport has recently joined the EBSN and I see this as an opportunity for us to develop professional knowledge and resources in this sector as we prepare to face the challenge of raising levels of basic skills among the adult population in Slovenia. Through our involvement in EBSN I hope that we can develop fruitful links with colleagues and institutions in other EU countries and that together we can find solutions to the challenges we are facing.