War Veterans to Be Employed as School Principals?

By 24 May 2018

ZAGREB, May 24, 2018 - Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak has told Hina that the instruction to schools to give advantage to unemployed veterans when hiring new school principals and dorm heads is not her decision, but rather explains a procedure defined by the Veterans Act.

The Veterans Act, which has been in force for six months, defines relevant rules for all public services or institutions. "Since the Constitutional Court is being mentioned as the body that should determine if the Veterans Act is in line with the constitution, if that court decides that the law is unconstitutional, we will change our instruction to schools," Divjak, who is on a visit to Paris for a ministerial conference on the Bologna Process, told Hina.

She went on to say that, with regard to the hiring of education workers, her ministry's bill on education, which was currently being discussed by the parliament, would make order in the system of employment by introducing selection procedures that would make the hiring process more transparent also in cases when war veterans were concerned.

According to media reports, Divjak on May 16 issued an instruction to primary and secondary schools as well as student dorms to give advantage to unemployed veterans when hiring new principals. Apart from veterans, other categories to be given advantage in the hiring process are children of Croatian soldiers killed or gone missing in the 1991-95 war, disabled war veterans, war volunteers, and members of the immediate or extended family of soldiers killed or gone missing in the war.

Commenting on Divjak's decision for reporters ahead of today's government session, War Veterans Minister Tomislav Medved said that there was nothing disputable about it and that Divjak had only cited in the decision provisions of the War Veterans Act that had been put to public consultation and received two parliamentary readings. "What has changed in relation to the previous law is that now veterans have advantage also when applying for a management position," Medved said, stressing that the decision was about employment under equal terms and would also cover employees in the education system whose qualifications were not in line with their position.

As for possible lawsuits that are being announced by some associations, Medved said that everyone was entitled to file a lawsuit, stressing that consultations were held on every article of the law and that it should be seen as an integral legal document.

The Association of Secondary School Principals is worried about Divjak's instruction which says that unemployed veterans with eight years of service in the school system should have the exclusive advantage in the hiring process for school principals.

"The problem with this is that they are bypassing the selection procedure which makes the employment terms unequal for other candidates. Only unemployed veterans are entitled to that privilege. All the other veterans, including teachers and school principals, do not enjoy that privilege," said Suzana Hitrec of the Association of High School Principals.