Bilingual Slovene school threatened by Government cuts

In 1984 the Slovene minority in the province of Udine did not have any official recognition. In those days a group of people – teachers, parents, and local administrators – decided to found a private school where Slovene and Italian would be taught. Despite the verbal attacks by Italian nationalists, particularly active in this area which borders former Yugoslavia, a nursery school was started, followed by a primary school with six children two years later.

Just before Christmas 2004, teachers, pupils and parents gathered together to remember the days when the school was launched and to celebrate the success of the institution. Nowadays the nursery school has 74 children and the primary 125. More celebrations are due because of the recent approval of the Law for the protection of the Slovene minority, effective since 2002, which means that the San Pietro al Natisone School will become state run.

“This step has brought financial stability to our activities but it hasn’t changed what we have been aiming to do. The state recognition is the result of a long struggle that the Slovene community in the province of Udine has undertaken in order to re-affirm its existence” says Ziva Gruden, chief of the bilingual institute of San Pietro and one of its founders.

However, considering the government’s cuts in the field of education, it is not necessarily the best moment for celebrations. Ziva Grudens explains the feelings of the people in the Natisone Valley: “At this very moment the situation is uncertain, the whole education system in Italy is under pressure and we are threatened with financial cuts that could stop our afternoon activities, which are essential for a bilingual school. Our mood is like this: on one side we are happy for the state recognition and for the increasing number of students, on the other side we can’t avoid our concerns over the change in Italian education policy”.

Another cause for concern is over the fact that after finishing primary school children are not guaranteed secondary education in Slovene. But Jole Namor, editor of the bilingual weekly Novi Matajur, tells Eurolang that some things are changing. “This year the secondary school in San Pietro started a Slovene language section, where students get Slovene as a foreign language instead of German. On a voluntary basis they can choose to have another six hour per week of Slovene. It is not much compared to what they do in the nursery and primary schools, but it is a step forward to obtain a complete education in Slovene”.

With a financial cut underway these initiatives face an uncertain future.

Max Mauro

Eurolang © 2005

izvor/Quelle: EUROLANG, JEV

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