Candidate for Education Minister Discusses Curriculum Reform

By 8 June 2017

Blaženka Divjak’s opinions on curriculum reform could cause divisions in the newly-formed ruling majority.

Blaženka Divjak, HNS’s candidate for the post of Minister of Education and Science, gave her first statement on her plans, reports N1 on June 8, 2017.

“First of all, I think education needs to be depoliticised. We should implement projects which are important not just for one party, or just for some people, but projects that will be important for our children and future generations,” said Divjak, speaking about her plans if she does indeed become Education Minister in the new HDZ-HNS government.

When it comes to this portfolio, the most pressing issue is the curricular reform and the controversial public competition which ended with Jasminka Buljan Culej being elected as the new head of the expert working group. “I don't think there is any alternative to curricular reforms, and we will discuss the details once the negotiations between the parties are successfully concluded,” said Divjak.

The key issue is whether the latest public competition for the head of the expert working group would be annulled and new competition announced. “Of course, there is a need for a new competition, but we should also check a lot of things before that. Depoliticisation is the step that should come first and foremost, and that will benefit everyone,” said Divjak.

Blaženka Divjak is a professor at the Faculty of Organisation and Informatics in Varaždin, and she recently participated in a protest for curricular reform where protesters demanded the resignation of current Education Minister Pavo Barišić, as well as other curricular reform officials. Several years ago, she was a candidate for the position of the Rector of the University of Zagreb but lost to Damir Boras.

Interestingly, on Wednesday evening, HDZ deputy party President Milijan Brkić said that public competition should not be annulled. “This will certainly not be a curricular reform of the left coalition, nor will it be a reform of the HDZ coalition. I do not know why the public competition would be annulled unless there are legitimate legal reasons for it. And if they do not exist, there is no reason to invalidate it. Everybody can join in the process.”

The issue of curricular reform is one of the main ideological issues in Croatia today, particularly the question of who will lead the effort. The current government has appointed a mostly conservative team to work on the reform, but the expectation is that HNS, as a liberal party, will take a different position on the issue, provided that it enters into the government. The curricular reform is the reason why HNS insists on having the post of Education Minister and one of the excuses it gives for changing sides and supporting HDZ’s government.