Slovenian party pushing for free kindergartens as costs rise

Around Europe children have been returning back to school recently. Many parents in Slovenia are unhappy with the relatively high kindergarten costs. Now, one political party is seeking to take advantage of parents' dissatisfaction, and bring the issue to parliament. Michael Manske of Radio Slovenia International has the story.

On the first of September, Slovenian schools opened their doors again. But along with grumbling children, some parents were also grumbling - especially those with children going to kindergarten. Fees for the early school years are scaled to income, and are reportedly higher in Slovenia than in comparable countries. In Slovenia, parents currently pay about 35% of the total kindergarten fees.

The Youth Party of Slovenia, the SMS, has now launched an attempt to get free kindergarten for all children in the country. The party is already at work collecting the necessary signatures to force the government to debate the issue.

SMS Party president Darko Krajnc:

"We put in the law proposition to the parliament. And now we have to collect 5000 signatures in the official way and so this is going to the parliament and then they will create a new law - with our help, I believe."

According to the SMS party, the proposal wants to ensure "equal opportunities for all children regardless of the social status of their parents."

Part of what makes kindergartens different from other schools is that they are in the domain of the local municipalities. The SMS believes that this is a big part of the problem. Darko Krajnc on the role of local governments:

"They have to work, they have to settle the price, they have to make investments and the state is only telling the causes, but they don't pay anything. So these local governments want parents to pay more, and this is the problem."

Kindergartens have also generated controversy because many wealthier parents in Slovenia have tried to skirt the laws in order to pay as little as possible. Whether kidnergartens now get renewed attention from parliament remains to be seen.