The quality of the Slovak education system has been continuously deteriorating in international comparisons, as demonstrated by declining results of our students in the OECD PISA international assessment, and by results of adults, i.e. graduates of our schools, in the PIAAC assessment. No Slovak university has been ranked for a longer term in the prestigious Shanghai ranking of the top 500 world universities, and this reflects mainly the low quality of science at universities. At the same time, Slovak pupils are among the most unhappy children from the 63 surveyed countries in the world according to the PISA survey, and this is probably related to the negative school climate.
The aim of this project is to reverse these trends in the medium to long term. The first step towards this change is the draft vision of education in Slovakia. The vision presents the ideal state we want to approach, and provides a prism that will enable us to distinguish the problems of our education system and their solutions. The second step is analysing the weaknesses of the Slovak education system. Next, we will formulate the necessary changes in public policy leading to desired outcomes in the education system. We will try to disseminate these changes among experts, politicians, and the broader public, as well as apply them gradually in the legislative and methodological practice.
The "Learning Makes Sense" project has several features that characterise its unique approach to the reform of education system in Slovakia:
Our ambition is to design an internally coherent change of the whole education system – from pre-primary education, through primary and secondary education, universities, to lifelong learning – and not only changing some of its elements. This is very important, because so far only isolated segments of schools have been reformed, and, as a result, connections between individual education levels and between different school types are low, education is inconsistent and its quality is deteriorating. To illustrate this state, it looks as if each wall of a house is built by a different builder – one using straw and others concrete panels or unfired clay. Such a house would hardly serve its residents. The fact that we also will deal with pre-primary education indicates we want to build solid foundations. There is no sense in focusing on a nice and quality roof on a house with shabby foundations.
The coherent reform proposal will also result in innovative and modern education being not just the case of a few inspiring schools and teachers, but it will become a systemic feature.
The coherence of the reform proposal is also supported by the fact that unlike the previous reforms, our proposal is not based on repairing the current system. We are convinced that we have to newly redefine education so that it can address both current and future challenges (the ageing of population, robotic production, immigration, rapidly changing economy and labour market demands). For this reason, our vision first describes the ideal state of what the education system should be like in 2040. This target state provides us with the optics to identify the problems of our education system and their solutions.