The national curriculum in Slovakia provides a sample of fully-joined, cursive writing based on Zjednodušená psací latinka that must be used for handwriting instruction in schools, which usually begins in Grades 1–2.
The Ministerstvo školstva, vedy výskumu a športu Slovenskej republiky, or the Ministry of education, science and sports of the Slovak Republic, oversees education in Slovakia. The education system is divided into elementary school comprising Grade 1–4 (7–10 years old) and secondary school comprising Grades 5–9 (11–15 years old), and students may attend střední škola, or middle school, for four years if they wish. Of these, elementary and secondary levels are compulsory. Education is fully public in Slovakia, but some private schools also operate in the country.
In 2020, the latest iteration of the Rámcový Učebný Plán, or Framework Curriculum, was published by the Ministerstvo. It provides a sample of fully-joined, cursive writing based on Zjednodušená psací latinka, or Simplified Latin script, which was ratified by the government of erstwhile Czechoslovakia in 1932. According to the curriculum, students must learn to write based on this model, following its letter shapes as well as slant.
The Ministerstvo has been sharing this model with private publishers since 1993, and in the absence of an official digitisation, publishers have produced their own versions for use in their textbooks. Until 2020, schools only received government funding for purchasing textbooks if they did so from state-verified publishers, though that is no longer the case. Among the private publishers producing handwriting textbooks, TAKTIK is quite popular.
Apart from the model supplied with the curriculum, some private schools also follow Školské Písmo, a typeface produced by Martina Figusch Rozinajová and Ján Filípek, or Comenia Script, developed by Radana Lencová in the Czech Republic.
Handwriting instruction usually begins in Grades 1–2 (7–8 years old). Students are introduced to cursive writing immediately after motor exercises, and they do not learn to write print style letters.
The evolution of Zjednodušená psací latinka
Before its independence in 1918, the erstwhile Czechoslovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and handwriting was influenced by the German writing style, Kurrent. In line with the strong nationalist sentiments after independence, the Ministerstvo ordered a handwriting reform in 1932. The emphasis on krasopis, or penmanship, was abandoned, as were any traces of Kurrent. The new standardised nation model called Zjednodušená psací latinka, or Simplified Latin script, which was published in 1933 aimed to be modern, and took inspiration from American approaches of the time, as well as new writing tools and teaching methods. It had monolinear strokes, fully-joined letters, and a natural slant that encouraged fast writing. Even the uppercase letters were designed to be written in one stroke without lifting the pen. According to Vilem Schönfeld, Zjednodušená psací latinka was based on the work of graphologist Robert Saudka. Saudka was a proponent of basing the teaching model on letter shapes that occur in handwriting, rather the stiff typefaces with contrast that were used earlier.
Sample pages from Písmenka-moji kamaráti 2 (2022) by Orbis Pictus Istropolitana
Zjednodušená psací latinka underwent several transformations in the following decades, mainly as a result of changes proposed by Dr. Václav Penc, including mechanical condensation in the 1950s, and other minor modifications in the 1960s. In 1978, the Ministerstvo approved an updated version of the model, which contained further modifications — the simplification of the numerals and reducing the stroke weight of letters — made by Dr. Penc in the same year. This approval came in spite of the criticism from experts and members of the Český fond výtvarných umění (ČFVU), or Czech Fine Arts Fund. There was an attempt to create an alternative handwriting teaching model by Tatiana Svatošová-Cipárová in 1990, but it was never completed.
Slovakia shared its history of handwriting education with the Czech Republic until 1993, when the two independent states were created, and developments began to diverge. After independence, the Ministerstvo in Slovakia began sending samples of the aforementioned handwriting model developed by Dr. Penc to educational publishers, in the form of scans or in bitmap format. This led to publishers creating their own digitisations of the template, sometimes including modifications or “improvements” to the letterforms as they saw fit. This, along with versions created by school teachers, has brought on a range of variations in the letterforms being taught to students. To address this inconsistency, educator Martina Figusch Rozinajová and type designer Ján Filípek initiated a project called Školské Písmo, or School Font, in 2018 to create a modern adaptation of the model in the form of a digital typeface.