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A new law concerning among other issues the appointment of school principals in the southern Austrian province of Carinthia has become highly controversial. Bilingual Slovene-German schools are expected to be affected by the law, which has prompted sharp criticism from the Slovene minority. However, Federal government ministries have also been critical, according to the text of a parliamentary request by Green MP and chairperson of the parliament's Human Rights Commission, Terezija Stoisits.
The minority's main criticism is the fact that, under the new law, it could become possible to employ monolingual school principals at constitutionally-guaranteed bilingual schools. This would no longer be in compliance with federal legislation on bilingual schools as interpreted by the Federal Ministry of Education in an answer to a request last year, it was claimed.
Governor of the province and head of the Carinthian education department, former Freedom Party leader Jörg Haider, last summer withdrew number of job advertisements for principals at bilingual schools in order to remove references to knowledge of the minority language as a qualification. Therefore, the Governor has acceded to the demands of, among others, the Carinthian German-speaking nationalist group, Kärntener Heimatdienst (Carinthian Home Service), who consider the request for knowledge of Slovene a discrimination against German teachers.
In her request presented in October, Stoisits asks for the content of the criticism by the Federal Ministry of Education and the Federal Chancellor's Office to be made available. She also wants to know whether or not they intend to forward an objection to Carinthia. Such an objection should be forwarded within eight weeks, otherwise the law comes into force. As the Carinthian parliament agreed the law on September 28, this would happen next Thursday. Such an objection would be unusual in Austria, a senior source in Vienna told Eurolang.
And asked about the content of the criticism and if the department would forward an objection, an official of the Federal Chancellor's Constitutional department said that he could not comment on a 'pending procedure.' Parliamentary requests must be answered within eight weeks. An answer to Stoisits' request is currently being prepared, but the deputy herself does not expect an answer before the deadline in mid-December.
If no objections are made, the Carinthian law then will have been in force for about a fortnight. Earlier this autumn, criticism was voiced by the Slovene minority when Jörg Haider, in his function as head of the department for schools, appointed a number of German-speakers in temporary positions as principals at bilingual schools.
The new principals have to be confirmed in their positions by local education councils; these confirmations are expected to be decided upon next Wednesday. According to leader of the bilingual schools department in Carinthia, Thomas Ogris, Haider has already advised the education councils to apply the new law in order that their decisions be formalised.
more informations: http://www.eurolang.net