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Slovakia

Overview

Slovenská Republika (The Slovak Republic) is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. It has a population of 5,447,502 and a literacy rate of 99.6%

Slovak history is rooted in the Great Moravian Empire, founded in the late 9th century. Great Moravia included parts of present-day Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Germany. Missionaries largely Christianized the Empire in the 10th century, but the Empire collapsed after only 80 years as a result of political intrigues and invading forces. The Slovaks were incorporated into the Hungarian Kingdom, with its capital at Bratislava. The Turks overran Hungary in the early 16th century.

Nationalist revolutions in the 19th century eventually produced the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. In resisting the imposition of the Hungarian language, Slovak intellectuals cultivated closer cultural ties with the Czechs, who were themselves ruled by the Austrians. After the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, Czechs and Slovaks formed Czechoslovakia, but by the late 1930s, the Nazis had invaded Czechoslovakia, and thousands were sent to concentration camps. Following World War II, Czechoslovakia was under communist rule for 50 years, and was dominated and influenced by the Soviet Union. Slovak-born Communist leader Alexander Dubček attempted political, social, and economic reforms in 1968, but he was removed by the Warsaw Pact powers. A dissident movement emerged in the 1970s, and, by 1989, the "Velvet Revolution" of public protests brought down communist rule in Czechoslovakia. The Slovak parliament voted to withdraw from the Czechoslovak federation and declared its sovereignty in 1993. The Slovak Republic became a member of NATO and joined the European Union in 2004.

Education

Education is compulsory for 9 years beginning at age 6. Currently, Slovakia's Ministerstva školstva, vedy, výskumu a športu.

Primary and Secondary Education

Elementary school is 9 years and divided into 2 stages. Stage one is Základná Škola I. stupeň (Basic School First Stage). It is 4 years and is followed by Základná Škola Ii. Stupeň (Basic School Second Stage), which is 5 years long. Following Basic School Second Stage, students have the option of continuing their education in a gymnázium (general secondary school), a stredná odborná Škola (specialized secondary school), a stredné odborné učilište (vocational secondary school), a konzervatórium (conservatory), or at an odborné učilište (apprentice training center).

  • The gymnázium offers a general education program to prepare students for post-secondary study at a university and other higher education institutions. It is a 4-year program and students are awarded a Vysvedčenie o maturitnej skúške upon completion. Students can also enter a gymnázium following Basic School Second Stage in which case it is an 8-year program.
  • Specialized secondary schools prepares students for technical, economic, agricultural, health care and arts careers as well as for post-secondary study. They are 4-year programs and students are awarded a Vysvedčenie o maturitnej skúške upon completion.
  • Vocational secondary schools prepare students for further post-secondary training. They are 4-year programs and students are awarded a Vysvedčenie o maturitnej skúške or a Učňovský list upon completion.
  • Conservatories are professional school that train students in dance, music, voice and dramatic arts. They are 6- to 8-year programs and students are awarded an Absolutórium upon completion.
  • Apprentice training centers offer 3-year vocational programs for students beginning at age 14. Upon completion, students are awarded a učňovský list.

Post-Secondary Education

Higher education in the Slovak Republic dates back to 1496 with the establishment of the first university, Academia Istropolitana. Sweeping changes have taken place with the creation of the Slovak Republic and the collapse of Soviet domination.

The Higher Education Act of 1990 introduced a 3-tiered system of undergraduate and graduate degrees, changing post-secondary from the 5-year Soviet model. Other changes allowed the creation of higher education facilities other than universities; established accreditation procedures; distinguished the bachelor, master, and doctorate cycles along Bologna Process lines; and introduced a system of credits (based on the European Credit Transfer System, ECTS).

The Slovakian system for quality assurance of higher education consists of yearly internal and 6-year external evaluation and accreditation. An Accreditation Commission reports to the Ministry of Education, which recognizes study programs and validates private institutions.

There are 24 higher education institutions in the Slovak Republic: 19 public, 4 state-run, and one private. The academic year runs September through August, and consists of two semesters (winter and summer), with two respective examination sessions.

First Cycle

The first level of university study, bakalárske štúdiu (bachelor studies), is 3-4 years long and students are awarded a bakalár upon completion.

Second Cycle

Second level university studies, magisterské (masters studies), inžinierske (engineering), doktorské Štúdium (doctoral studies) are 1-2 years long following a bakalár. Humanities, education, social sciences, natural sciences, pharmacy, theology, law and art are 1-year long and, upon completion, students are awarded a magister (master) or a magister umenia (master of arts) for students in the arts. Economics, agriculture, chemistry, architecture, and technical fields are 1-1.5 years and students are awarded the title of inžinier (engineer) or inžinier-architekt (architectural engineer) for architecture students. Students who hold a magister can sit for the Examen Rigorosa and defend a dissertation and are then awarded a Doktor Prírdrodných Vied (RNDr), a Doktor Farmácie (PharmDr), in the Humanities and Arts, the Doktor Filozofie (PhDr) for students in humanities and arts, Doktor Práv (JUDr), a Doktor Pedagogiky (PaedDr) for students in teacher training and physical education, and the Doktor Teológie (ThDr) for students in all areas of theology except Roman Catholic theology.

Third Cycle

Third level university studies are 3 years long and require a second-level university degree for admission. Upon completion of coursework and defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Philosofiae Doctor (PhD) or a Artis Doctor (ArtD). Holders of a PhD or an ArtD who have completed outstanding research and who defend a thesis based on their research are awarded a Doktor Vied .


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