Adult Education in Slovenia

Mateja Pecar

What is meant in the country when you talk about Adult Education?
Adult education in Slovenia is a wide ranging and diverse form of education and training which includes formal education to gain higher levels of qualification (general, vocational, technical, professional, academic), formal specialised training, and non-formal education and learning of adults. Formal education gives adult the opportunity to raise their educational attainment or to gain publicly recognised qualifications (certified education); non-formal education and learning (e. g. study circles, Project Learning for Young Adults, literacy program Training for life Efficiency) is intended for those who wish to acquire new knowledge and skills, or who wish to refresh, expand, modernise or deepen their skills (non-certified education).

What is typical for Adult Education in the country?
Provision of adult education is regulated and supported on different fields and levels, according to respective legal framework, mechanisms and instruments. Programmes financed by public sources are: compulsory education (primary school), secondary education for vulnerable groups, different kinds of vocational training for the unemployed, non-formal programmes aimed at improving new basic skills (foreign language, IT skills, active citizenship) and programmes for citizens with disabilities or special needs, minorities and migrants. Other programmes are regulated at the level of provision (providers are obliged to meet defined standards) and at the level of certification (publicly recognised certificates can be issued only for attaining verified programmes).

Legal basis
The Parliament passes laws concerning adult education and training, and supports the National Programme for Adult Education. Annual Plans and the scope of publicly financed adult education programmes are also overseen by the Government.

Educational legislation:

  • The Adult Education Act (1996)
  • The Organisation and Financing of Education Act (1996)
  • The Elementary School Act (2007)
  • The Gimnazije Act (2006)
  • The Vocational Education Act (2006)
  • The Higher Vocational Education Act (2004
  • The National Vocational Qualifications Act (2003)

The labour legislation which refers also to adult education includes the Employment Relationship Act and the Employment and Insurance against Unemployment Act, and also the Collective Agreement.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Act on Pension and Disability Insurance, the Act on the Disabled by War and the Act on Training and Employment of the Disabled Persons also deal with education and training of adults.

Apart from educational and labour legislation, education and training of adults is mentioned in other legal and strategic documents within various sectors of economic activity. This includes the fields of constitutional regulation, public administration activities, defence, protection against natural disasters, local self- management, exterior affairs, denationalisation, judicial affairs, interior affairs, civil and penal act, public finances, economic activities and banking, service field, and spatial planning and environmental protection.
Responsible public bodies / ministries
The main decision making department for the design and implementation of policy within the field of adult education is the Higher Vocational and Adult Education Division within the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport. There is also a special department for vocational and job-related training within the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (MLFSA), namely the Sector for Lifelong Learning and Scholarships.

The Government has entrusted professional matters and programme development to Strokovni svet republike Slovenije za izobraževanje odraslih (Council of Experts of the Republic of Slovenia for Adult Education – CEAE), which monitors and evaluates the conditions and the development of adult education in the country according to the developmental needs of society, from the viewpoint of quality and international comparability. The Government appoints the members of the CEAE, who are well known experts in the field.

Relevant umbrella associations and national (service) organisations
There are five institutes set up and financed by the Government that play an important role in the system of adult education and lifelong learning in general: Andragoški center Slovenije (Slovenian Institute for Adult Education – SIAE), Center za poklicno izobraževanje (National Institute for Vocational Education and Training), Zavod za šolstvo (The National Education Institute), Šola za ravnatelje (National School for Leadership in Education – NSLE) and Državni izpitni center (National Examination Centre). The role of these institutes are three fold: researching and developing programmes, methods, approaches, instruments and knowledge in their respective fields, the training of trainers, and testing, evaluating, acknowledging and certifying programmes, skills and knowledge.

Providers of Adult Education

  • 34 folk high schools, which provide adult education and training; the Association of folk high schools provides a professional network and represents the interests of its members (28 folk high schools;
  • schools and higher education institutions, primarily intended for youth education;
  • private educational organisations specialised for the delivery of adult education;
  • other institutions whose main activity is not the provision of adult education (education centres within companies, chambers of commerce, industry, trade, craft, and small business, vocational and expert associations, and others (such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), societies, libraries, galleries, clubs and associations). They provide non- formal programmes of adult education. An important share in non-formal education is held by driving schools. There is a range of programmes in non- formal adult vocational education which do not lead to qualifications or degrees but are nonetheless important for enhanced performance within an occupation. Such programmes include computing programmes, offered by authorised providers.
  • An important role, mainly in education for older people, is undertaken by the universities of the third age (

To facilitate better access to education, the government is promoting regional educational networks which are included in the annual adult education programme. These networks are:

Around 70 million euros are annually spent for adult education in Slovenia from the budgetary assests. In 2010 companies spent nearly 56 million euros for the training and education of their employees.

The main document which determines the budget and financial distribution of adult education from public funds is the Annual Plan of Adult Education (APAE). The plans are prepared by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Ministry of Labour, Social, Family Affairs and Equal Opportunities, verified by the CEAE and approved by the Government.

The most important source of public funding of adult education is public official invitation for tenders for the provision of educational and vocational programmes, which are annually announced by both ministries (education, labour). The invitations are open to all institutions or organisations registered for performing educational services.

A part of public funds are distributed to support the networks of adult education providers, such as folk high schools, providing general education, Regional guidance centres for adult education, Study circles mentors’ network, or the University of the Third age.

Apart from these, there are substantial financial means earmarked for different target groups of adults, provided by other public institutions or other ministries, e.g. the Ministry of Health for promoting health care awareness, or the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning for raising the level of knowledge on environment protection or special educational programmes for different disadvantaged groups. The majority of resources aimed at job related training is, however, provided by employers themselves, although some additional resources are provided also by the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities as an instrument of their active employment policy.

Participation rate
In 2010 Slovenia already reached and surpassed the objective of the Education and Training Strategy Europe 2020, i.e. 15% of adult population (aged 25–64) participating in education ( However, in the past three years there is a decline in participation, i.e. in 2013 12,6%).

The most popular topics in 2011/12 were:

Non-formal education 

  • Social, economic, administrative and legal sciences
  • Services
  • Arts and Humanities (language courses included)
  • General education outcomes
  • Science, mathematics and computing
  •  Engineering, manufacturing and construction
  •  Health and welfare
  •  Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinary
  •  Educational Sciences and Teacher Training

Formal education

  • Business and administration
  • Training teachers of preschool children
  • Hairdressing and beauty


All teachers and trainers who teach in state-verified educational or vocational programmes for adults must have recognised andragogical knowledge and competences, which can be acquired either at the Department for Pedagogy and Andragogy at the Faculty of Arts (University of Ljubljana), or by attending special corresponding training, after which it is necessary to pass an exam and to receive the certificate of andragogical competences. These are provided and issued by the Pedagogical faculties and Faculty of Arts while Slovenian Institute for Adult Education delivers programmes of continuing education and training for teachers in adult education. Teachers are mostly required to have an appropriate tertiary degree, equivalent to a Bachelors or Masters degree.

Quality system / insurance 
Evaluation and monitoring of adult mainstream education is regulated to the same standards as the education of young people. Various forms of supervision and evaluation of education are in place, such as the verification of public institutions, regulatory procedures for the adoption of curricula, and obligatory Teaching Certification Examination for teaching and other professional support staff. In 1999, a set of instruments for self-evaluation were introduced in elementary and upper secondary education including people’s universities. Other types of evaluation include external assessment of knowledge at the end of upper secondary education in-house evaluation and external evaluation of programmes via external contracted evaluation.

Supervision of the implementation of the curricula for adult learners is the responsibility of the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education which reports their findings to the responsible ministers and to the CEAE. It has also developed a model of self-evaluation for adult education under the name Offering Quality Education to Adults.

Latest developments / main problems in the discussion

  • ongoing negotiations for the new European Social Fund (ESF) perspective 2014–2020
  • the recent adoption of the Resolution on the Slovenian Master Plan for Adult Education (MPAE) 2013–2020
  •  the current process of defining standards for the public AE network
  • PIAAC results (Slovenia is taking part in its second round)

Relevant links
Eurypedia- Eurypedia – European Encyclopedia on National Education Systems: Education in the Europe 2020 Strategy: Slovenia

Eurypedia – European Encyclopedia on National Education Systems: Adult Education and Training in Slovenia
EAEA Country presentation: Slovenia

General country information
General country information: Wikipedia -Slovenia
Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia

Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE)