The Bilingual Primary School in Prosenjakovci is located in a rural area of the municipality of Morasvke Toplice (SIovenia), which is less than 2 km away from the border with Hungary. The bilingual aspect was not foreseen as part of its initial purpose, but resulted directly from a request by Hungarian-speaking citizens living in this ethnically mixed area for primary education for their children. The Hungarian ethnic minority is recognised by Slovenian law and thus, Slovenian and Hungarian are both official languages in the municipality, which guarantees access to all public services in Hungarian. Even though Slovenian schools have no obligation to admit pupils from Hungary living outside Slovenia, the bilingual school of Morasvke Toplice has been offering this opportunity on a voluntary basis. This resulted directly from Hungarian families demanding access to Slovenian educational services, which are perceived to be of higher quality.
Prosenjakovci, in the municipality of Morasvke Toplice, in Slovenia.
The school represents an example of a cross-border public service which has evolved from a domestic need which had been inadequately satisfied by existing facilities. Both languages rotate according to a time schedule and are used for daily communication (oral and written) between teachers, students and parents.
With regard to funding, the maintenance costs are covered by the Slovenian national budget and by the municipality, while no public bodies from Hungary are involved.
The bilingual school has generated benefits for both sides of the border. On the one hand, the school attracts additional pupils from Hungary, making the Slovenian rural area more attractive even though its population is decreasing. On the other hand, the service contributes to increasing accessibility to high quality primary education for children living close to the border and avoiding long travel times for Hungarian pupils who would have needed to travel further away in Hungary to get the same standard of education. The school’s bilingual nature has contributed to the integration of the Hungarian minority by providing them with an education in their mother tongue. In general, the increased number of pupils attending the school demonstrates the effectiveness of cross-border services, as well as the potential for the creation of a cohesive environment among children and parents. As a result of the positive experience, the school intends to extend the service to preschool children.