The mission and the history

The mission and the current situation at the faculty

The Faculty of Education belongs to the biggest faculties of Comenius University. It is also one of the biggest faculties of education in Slovakia. Founded in 1946, the Faculty of Education of Comenius University is the oldest faculty of education in Slovakia. The mission of the faculty is to train professionals for various fields of education and social care. In the same time, the faculty is aimed to develop research activities in the field of pedagogy, social sciences and humanities. The strategy of the faculty is to increase the quality of education and to support research, in accordance with the latest Slovak and European trends. The faculty also directs its attention towards preparing a new generation of progressive and innovative pedagogical and non-pedagogical professionals who will fully meet the requirements of the modern society.

The mission of Comenius University is to spread and protect knowledge, to grow free thinking, to develop independent scientific research, and to support the spirit of creativity in the society.

The Faculty of Education contributes to the entire mission of the university and actively participates in various activities within pedagogical sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. The faculty offers university education organized in accredited study programmes at all levels of university education. The education covers a variety of disciplines including pedagogical science, social sciences and arts. The faculty also organizes courses of lifelong learning education. It offers library and information services and is a recognized as publisher of their own scientific papers. The faculty cooperates with the local as well as foreign universities, research institutions and the government. The faculty´s academics actively take part in activities co-organized with these institutions. This mutual cooperation is codified in various treatments.

We have been trying to bring up and educate the new generation of innovative professionals for over seven decades. As for the study programmes offered, the faculty offers 82 full-time bachelor´s study programmes, 31 external bachelor´s study programmes and 6 additional bachelor´s study programmes in association with other faculties. The faculty offers 81 full-time master´s programmes and 18 external Master´s programmes. The most successful graduates may continue their studies and apply for doctoral studies in 8 full-time or external study programmes. The pedagogical and research workers at the faculty departments and research institutions altogether with their students work on a number of local and international projects. Both teachers and students use funds and exchange programmes in order to find new ways of cooperation. Apart from theoretical knowledge, all departments of the faculty run a number of practical trainings. The faculty is equipped with academic library, study rooms and internet places for students. The whole faculty is based in three buildings in the centre of Bratislava.

The Faculty of Education has a strong intention to prepare future teachers who will fully meet the requirements of the modern society. At the same time, the faculty needs to reflect on the current social and economic condition. In recent years, the public has called for improving of quality of education at all levels from pre-primary to university levels. If Slovakia is to stay in the group of cultural nations, it needs to make radical changes in the system of education. This fact is also proclaimed by a number of recognized research agencies. The changes need to touch not only the types of coursebooks used, but more importantly, the teacher´s personality in sense of who and in what way is going to teach our children.

Teachers’ salaries, which over a long period of time, are the lowest of all Slovak university educated job positions (not mentioning other European countries) are also reflected in their social status and respect of teacher. For example, a novice teacher in Germany starts with 4000€. In Slovakia, not only an experienced teacher, but also internationally recognized professors can only dream about such salaries. Comenius University, as the only Slovak university has managed to get into the range of 500 best world’s universities.

In this context, it is an achievement that our faculty has been successful in the complex accreditation for all the study programmes. This success is a clear evidence of proper work at the departments and institutes and of high quality of teachers at all study programmes.

Good news is that the faculty has a balanced number of students and new candidates, which means that it does not have to struggle with the lack of students. A number of candidates who apply for the study have great results with grade average of 1,0.

Teaching programmes

The faculty offers single subject study programmes as well as combinations of two or more subjects. Apart from the study programme “teaching Slovak language and literature” the faculty also provides the programmes specialized in teaching English, German and Romance languages (French, Italian and Spanish). The departments of languages emphasize using the latest trends, strategies, methods and forms of teaching foreign languages. The faculty declares its attitude to modern teaching at various conferences, workshops, and through its cooperation with State Pedagogical Institute and the teacher training centres around Slovakia.

In artistic study programmes, our teachers, recognized locally as well as internationally, prepare the future teachers of music and fine arts. Together with their students they organize various festivals, concerts, exhibitions and artistic workshops.

The Faculty of Education of Comenius University is the only faculty that prepares specialists in the field of pathopsychology and psychology for working with impaired individuals. At the Departments of History and Civics and Ethic Education top specialists are employed and their graduates easily find the path of their future career.

The studies of pre-primary and primary education is also one of the most required study programmes. Annually, these departments accept a number of new candidates.

Other pedagogical and non-teaching programmes

Apart from the teaching study programmes the departments of German language and Romance languages offer non-teaching study programmes “German and Spanish language in intercultural and transcultural communication”. These were established as a result current requirements of labour market. These study programmes contain various lectures and seminars on specifics of culturology, literal science and linguistics in intercultural communication. The study of communication disorders is unique of its kind and has a solid scientific background just because of the faculty. The study programmes of special pedagogy have a long tradition and the widest spectrum of subjects of all Slovak universities. In the study programme of special pedagogy graduates may obtain a master’s and doctoral degree and are offered a number of specializations including sensory, kinesthetic, visual and mental impairment pedagogies. They are also offered the teaching study programmes specialized in learners with impaired behaviour, communication disorders, autistic learners, and talented learners. The study programme of therapeutic pedagogy studies focuses on therapeutic work with children. Its graduates find their jobs in various institutions of medical or social services. Pedagogy may also be studied as a teaching programme in combination with other subjects. Apart from that, pedagogy may also be studied as a non-teaching programme with a major in social pedagogy and education. Another non-teaching study programme offered by the faculty is Social work. Graduates from this study programme find their future jobs in the fields of social services, management of social services and in HR departments. Reflecting the needs and requirement of the population in 90´s, the faculty of education of Comenius university was the first in Slovakia to have opened the study programme of social work.

The faculty has a number of top quality specialists who are the guarantors of study programmes (professors, associate professors and other pedagogues). Recently, the faculty has employed young professors and associate professors. The faculty also employs coordinators – pedagogues for impaired students of our faculty. Impaired students are offered assistance through the Centre of Services for Students with Special Needs.

The faculty creates good conditions for young research workers within students’ scientific and artistic activities. Our students win various awards. Within artistic activities, the student choir Comenius needs to be mentioned.

Science and research

The faculty is awarded the right to name professors and associate professors in two fields and we strongly believe that more fields will come soon. The faculty offers 8 PhD study programmes. We organize various local and foreign research activities in an effort to be involved in all important projects. The pedagogues do all their activities in with the aim to link their research iniciatives with their publication activities. All efforts of this type have been summarized and awarded in the complex accreditation where the faculty improved by one level compared to the last year. Last but not least, each year the university takes higher place in the international evaluation of universities ARRA

International cooperation

The faculty actively cooperates with a number of school and non-school training institutions.  Our students participate in excursions and research fellowships in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Students also take international exchange programmes and attend research fellowships in Poland, Finland, Germany, Spain, and the United States. In this type of exchange programme the number of PhD candidates has increased recently who work at foreign research institutions and laboratories. This experience significantly influences their education and their expertise. The quality of education at the Faculty is also influenced by foreign guest teachers and research workers. They usually teach an agreed number of classes or whole semesters. Guest teachers may also deliver single lectures or seminars. In Erasmus+ programme, the faculty has signed dozens of bilateral contracts about future teachers’ and students’ foreign exchanges.

The faculty has been actively involved in various European initiatives supporting foreign exchange programmes for all levels of university students, teachers and research workers which has a significant impact on entire education and research (the international activities and projects within LLP Erasmus, Erasmus+, Tempus IV, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtwig, DAAD, CEEPUS, International Visegrad Fund, National Scholarship programme of the Slovak Reoublic, Fulbright programme, inter-governmental exchange programmes, etc.). Erasmus+ as well as other exchange programmes enable dozens of our students in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral study programmes to study and take practical trainings abroad. Through these exchange programmes, the teachers and research workers of our faculty may participate in research abroad. The programme also gives an opportunity to welcome foreign students and university teachers to our faculty (e.g. teachers and students from Japan, Thailand, Mongolia).

The faculty has also signed individual contracts about cooperation and mutual support in the field of science and education with a number of foreign university institutions. (The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, USA, Russia, France, Spain, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, etc.). In 2012 Comenius University entered a prestigious organization Agence Universitarie de la Francofonie. In 2013 the faculty joined the University network within CEEPUS programme focusing on the development of language and intercultural education. As a result, the faculty offers unique study programmes where students may study and graduate in a foreign language.

Brief history of the faculty

One of the historical buildings of the faculty
One of the historical buildings of the faculty

First attempts to constitute faculties of education in the previous Czech-Slovak Republic go back to 20’s of the previous century. However, the first steps were taken after the WWII in 1945. The initiative was taken by teachers themselves who, at the annual assembly in Prague on 14 – 15th July opened the question of university education for teachers. The Slovak parliament passed the law 132/1945 about education of teachers which was signed by president Edvard Beneš on 27th October 1945. According to this law, teachers at all levels of schools needed to acquire their education at faculties of education or other colleagues of university type.

The issues of establishment of faculties of education and the length of studies were later codified by law. One of the first was the law about the establishment 100/1946 passed on 9th April 1946. According to this law, all Czech and Slovak universities needed to open faculties of education.

Ceremonial parade of students and teachers of the Vyššej školy pedagogickej in Bratislava in 1958
Ceremonial parade of students and teachers of the Vyššej školy pedagogickej in Bratislava in 1958

Ladislav Novomesky, the government official established a commission of representatives from Slovak university on 25th September 1946. At Slovak university, the main protagonists responsible for establishing of the faculty of education was Juraj Hronec, the dean and Jozef Schubert, the faculty secretary. The opening celebration took place on 6th December 1946 in the university assembly hall at Šafárikovo námestie in Bratislava. During this celebration, Karol Kizlink, the rector of the University gave Jozef Hronec the insignia of the faculty and officially opened the faculty.

Among other personalities who significantly contributed to the history of faculty at its beginnings let us mention professor Eugen Suchoň (music), Martin Novacký (biology) Jozef Kostka (fine arts), Juraj Čečetka (pedagogy), Ján Stanislav (Slovak language) Andrej Mráz (literary science), Orest Dubay and Fridrich Hoffstädter (fine arts), Karol Goláň and Ján Huček (history).

The further development of the Faculty of Education was largely influenced by the communist putsch in 1948. Following this, the faculty had to struggle with two major negative factors: 1. Ideology of Marxism and Leninism, 2. Instable position of faculties of education. From the beginning of the school year 1952/1953, all faculties of education changed into 2-year higher pedagogical schools and into pedagogical colleges. The Faculty of Education in Bratislava changed into Vyššia pedagogická škola and Vysoká škola pedagogická.

New building of the Faculty of Education in Trnava, 1960s
New building of the Faculty of Education in Trnava, 1960s

This situation took for several years until 1959 when the law no: 57/1959, passed on 31st July 1959, opened pedagogical institutes. The newly established pedagogical institute had to be moved from Bratislava to Trnava and at the time there was no pedagogical school of university type in Bratislava. The situation improved in 1964 when faculties of education were re-opened. However, it was still in Trnava.

From the beginning of school year 1972/1973 the faculty was the only one to offer education for teachers and educators working with learners with special needs. Since 1977/1978 the faculty trained secondary teachers. On 1st January 1986 it was moved from Trnava back to Bratislava.

The situation remained unchanged until 1989 when the faculty was largely developed. Currently, the faculty has its stable position among other faculties of Comenius University. Its quality can be observed in the number of study programmes opened, great graduates, good grades in evaluations by independent agencies and an increased number of students being interested in studying at the faculty.

The establishment of the Faculty of Education at Comenius University is a result of long struggle for university education for teachers. The later development only confirmed that this was the right step. It was a requirement of the modern society closely linked with significant progress in natural and technical sciences and humanities. These requirements put urgent demands on both teachers and students. We strongly hope that the future will not bring changes in understanding the importance of teachers’ education. We believe that the role of teacher in society will be understood even better and it will lead to overall development of society and appreciation of the role of teacher.