Following the publishing of the Learning Slovakia document, approved in 2017, the education ministry prepared the National programme for the development of education (NPDE), a 54-page document including 106 policy measures.
The NPDE, approved by the Government on 27 June 2018, introduces a 10-year implementation plan.
The three relevant to general and vocational secondary education policy measures are:
- provision of textbooks should become more efficient, as all missing titles should be delivered until 2027. An estimated budget of EUR 67 699 432 for the period 2020-27 is earmarked for this project;
- open licence digital resources should be available in the permanently expanding Central repository of digital educational contents (CUDEO);
- regional school debt caused by insufficient funding of school facilities and equipment in the past, should be reduced through additional investment of EUR 180 million in 2019-21.
The following measures and actions are explicitly focused on linking education with the labour market:
- increasing the quality of dual VET through the funding of professional and employer organisations involved in dual VET; they will receive EUR 987 062 annually from 2018 to 2027;
- raising dual VET attractiveness by reducing the administrative burden for participating SMEs; and by earmarking EUR 19 872 000 and EUR 32 501 000 respectively for direct payments from the state budget to SMEs and larger enterprises involved in dual VET during 2019-27;
- abolishing the demotivating measure of cutting funding of schools involved in dual VET; it is estimated that during 2018-27 school funding will increase by a total of EUR 76 902 604;
- carrying out a demand-driven ESIF-funded project (EUR 30 million) aiming to align secondary education with labour market needs;
- improving career guidance and counselling, by introducing counsellors at district and regional levels; a total of EUR 18 008 185 is earmarked for 2019-27;
- expanding the provision of post-secondary VET, including alternative ways to achieve a bachelor title;
- promoting in-company internships for VET teachers and trainers as a form of initial and in-service training;
- carrying out a higher education graduate tracking survey, based on experience from a current Cedefop project on skills governance;
- developing and carrying out professionally-oriented bachelor programmes; they will be supported by demand-driven ESF projects (total cost of EUR 15 million in 2018);
- introducing new legislation to promote dual VET in tertiary education and financial incentives for employers; this should be in place in 2022.
Additional investment in education is a positive development, as school equipment is often outdated and provision of textbooks insufficient: about 20% of textbooks are still missing from VET schools and about 50 titles must be edited again. Although almost all suggested VET-related measures are already in the pipeline, additional systemic changes are needed, as the full potential of Learning Slovakia has not yet been exploited.