Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Croatian Startup SimpleMatic Creates Solution for JGL Pharma Company

December the 13th, 2022 - The Croatian startup SimpleMatic has successfully designed a solution for one of the most irritating issues still faced by a large domestic pharma company.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, JGL, the very well-known Croatian pharmaceutical company, continues to face a very specific problem when it comes to the production process. Every four hours, as was explained by Mate Poropat, the director of JGL's pharmaceutical-technological operations, they have to change the sedimentation plates in the monitoring procedure. This process is still done manually and costs the company a lot of money and time.

"We want to automate that process in a simple way," said Poropat. Thanks to the Manufacturing Innovation Challenge (MIC) project, which is organised and implemented by the EIT Manufacturing Hub Croatia, they didn't have to wait very long for a solution to come running along. The Croatian startup SimpleMatic, consisting of Daniela Jaksic and Marko Brkljacic, came up with and designed a solution to this issue in a mere few weeks.

"Our solution is of great importance on a global level, because almost all pharmaceutical companies have to try and cope with the problem of manually changing sedimentation plates," explained Jaksic from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry.

Knowledge and innovation

This example clearly shows how thin the line can be between a problem and a solution. However, it is only thin if the problem falls into the right hands - from industry to those of science. And they were brought together by the EIT Manufacturing Hub, one of ten such hubs in Europe whose goal is to create a network of European innovators in the field of manufacturing and to position Europe as a world leader in innovation in industry.

The EIT Manufacturing HUB in Croatia consists of the Centre for Research, Development and Technology Transfer of the University of Zagreb and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Shipbuilding. They implement a wide number of projects, including MIC, which connects manufacturing companies and startups.

"One of the key problems with startup teams is that they create products for which there's no market. At the same time, manufacturing companies have to face real challenges. It was logical to connect them both,'' explained Miro Hegedic, the co-coordinator in the Manufacturing Hub and an assistant professor at FSB.

Thanks to this project, JGL came to the solution they had been looking for for a long time, and the Croatian startup SimpleMatic got the opportunity to implement their innovation and develop globally. Another award-winning team that participated in the MIC competition - Integrators - who designed a solution for the giant company Podravka and their optimisation of the size of their production orders, also has such an opportunity on its hands.

More money

Those teams, awarded with 10,000 kuna, are two of the nine that participated in the competition. "We want to encourage the development of innovations through projects, including in regard to this competition," Hegedic pointed out.

The Republic of Croatia, which is unfortunately at the very back of the European Union (EU) in terms of innovation, will have a lot of work to do in this field. However, Vesna Petrovic, the co-coordinator of the EIT Manufacturing Hub Croatia from CIRTT, pointed out that she is satisfied with the positive energy she's felt.

"Everyone would like greater access to financing sources," she concluded.

For more, make sure to follow our business section.

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Zagreb Advent on Hold, Jelacic Square to Host Croatia Argentina Watch Party

December 13, 2022 - Croatia is in the semi-final of the World Cup. The Croatia Argentina match is scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight and all of Croatia is preparing, including Zagreb's main square.

As Index writes, the Christmas decorations are being hurriedly removed from Ban Jelačić square in Zagreb. The reason for that is the semi-final match of the World Cup in which Croatia is playing Argentina. The match should be streamed at Zagreb's main square tonight. At the beginning of next week, another event is expected to be organised at the same place - the welcome home reception for the Croatian national football team.

When Croatia came in second in the 2018 World Cup, a massive spontaneous party was thrown at the Ban Jelačić square, with more than half a million participants. The celebrations were not limited to Zagreb, with many smaller parties arranged all over Croatia as well. This year, too, most cities in Croatia are organising watch parties at their main squares for the Croatia Argentina semi-final match.

As for Zagreb, Index wrote yesterday that the City of Zagreb started intensively arranging to host a watch party of today's match with Argentina on the big screen at Ban Josip Jelačić Square.
So far, the matches would be streamed at the nearby European Square, but it is expected that this year's semi-final match will attract many more people to the streets of Croatia's capital.

It is also expected that a mass reception party like the one after winning silver at the 2018 World Championship could be repeated, with the difference that this one should take place a few days before Christmas as well, giving it a special festive atmosphere.

The said reception of the national football team will either happen on Monday if Croatia goes through to the final, or on Sunday if Croatia ends up playing the third place match.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Sport section.

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Croatian SysKit Attracts Impressive Sum in Form of British Investment

December the 13th, 2022 - The Croatian SysKit software company has managed to successfully attract an impressive nine million US dollars in investment, financed by the British.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian SysKit, based here in the City of Zagreb, secured a nine million dollar investment that will be used for the internationalisation of its business operations and the further development of the company.

As part of this investment, which was financed by the British investment fund Cade Hill Investments, they opened an office in the affluent English city of Cambridge, which is where they moved their headquarters to.

"This investment will significantly facilitate our positioning on Western markets and open up stronger access to foreign knowledge and talent," said SysKit's CEO, Toni Frankola. Their British investors, with whom they first cooperated back in 2017, recognised that the company had successfully mastered a specific technological and market niche.

In addition to the financial growth achieved with the key product, SysKit Point, the company increased the number of employees to 75 in 2022, and additional growth is expected in 2023. The Croatian SysKit otherwise describes itself as a software development company primarily focused on creating high-quality enterprise governance and monitoring solutions for Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Windows Servers, Remote Desktop Services, and Citrix environments.

Their tools – SysKit Point, SPDocKit, SysKit Monitor, SysKit Insights, and SysKit Trace help administrators, IT professionals, managers, and business team leaders worldwide in achieving their goals. Our story began in 2009 in Zagreb, Croatia, with the idea to monitor servers. That’s how our first product, Terminal Services Log, was born. Today, more than 50 creative, diligent people work on this company's products which are used by more than 3000 companies worldwide.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know that the IT sector across the Republic of Croatia has been blossoming (and rapidly) over the last several years, SysKit is just one of the many companies to have done exceptionally well in attracting foreign investment and penetrating Western European and American markets.

For more, follow our business section.

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Konzum - Croatian Chain Shortens Working Hours for Big Match

December the 13th, 2022 - The Croatian chain Konzum has put having a sporting spirit before an extra hour of doing business by shortening their working hours today. They have warned people to come and buy what they need before time.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, given that the remarkable Croatian national football team has entered the semi-finals of the World Cup in Qatar and that fan euphoria is at its peak at this moment in time, the large Croatian chain Konzum has decided that today (Tuesday, December the 13th), their stores will remain open only until 20:00.

There are several exceptions to this, with some stores located within larger shopping centres remaining open and in operatation according to their regular working hours (until 21:00)

Customers are as such invited to come and make their purchases on time, as even the people who aren't remotely interested in football and hoping to do their shopping during the match will need to come earlier in most cases.

For more, check out our news section.

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Euro Croatia: How to Pay Utility Bills in Croatian Kuna in January 2023

December 13, 2022 - Euro Croatia: from the 1st of January 2023, the official currency in Croatia will be the euro. In the first two weeks of next year, Croatian citizens will be able to pay their bills in kuna, regardless of whether they are issued in kuna or euros.

As Poslovni reports, as soon as we enter the New Year, the official currency in Croatia becomes the euro, which means that payments should be made in euros, but citizens are given a deadline for adjustment in the first two weeks of 2023, during which they can still pay in kuna. The change, however, will be in euros during this transition period. Card payment is recommended as much as possible.

From January 15, the euro will be the only accepted currency, and the kuna will definitely be out of circulation. Regarding the payment of utilities, for example, the Croatian Banking Association states that the currency specified on the invoices should be used to pay.

"Utility bills for December will be issued in January 2023 and will be in euros. For all payment slips that citizens have received in advance and on which the amount of payment is in kuna, and will be paid after the introduction of the euro, the bank is obliged to make the payment in euro in the amount corresponding to the amount of kuna specified on the payment order. The bank will act in this way until July 1 next year," HUB told Novi list.

The Financial Agency (Fina) confirmed yesterday that the above applies to Fina as well.

"After January 1 and until June 30, 2023, Fina will receive orders issued in kuna and will execute them in euros, with the application of the conversion rate. Also, during the dual circulation period, i.e. in the first two weeks of January 2023, citizens can pay orders in kuna, regardless of whether they are issued in kuna or euros," explains Fina.

According to this, it turns out that the criterion is the moment in which the citizens decide to pay: if they pay by January 14, that can be done using the Croatian kuna, and if it's after that, regardless of when the bill was issued and in which currency, it must be in euros. If the citizens do not have euros, they can exchange kuna for euros in several ways. As far as the conversion of kuna into euros is concerned, in Croatia, the bank association points out that throughout 2023, banks, Fina and Croatian Post will exchange up to 100 kuna notes and 100 kuna coins per transaction at the counters for free, to all citizens at the same exchange rate.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Croatian Traditions: Planting Christmas Wheat on Saint Lucy's Day

December 13, 2022 - Croatia is a largely Catholic country, and as such it has many traditions tied to saints, including various Christmas traditions. One of them is Saint Lucy's Day, which is today, on the 13th of December. The Croatian tradition for this day includes planting a little pot of Christmas wheat, which will serve as part of the decorations for the Christmas table.

As Večernji wrote, although pots of wheat can be bought for almost symbolic amounts at markets and in all retail chains, the process of planting wheat is part of a tradition that takes most Croatians back to their childhood, family gatherings and the immense joy of waiting for Christmas, which, unfortunately, seems to be slowly disappearing.

The planting of wheat in the Croatian Christmas tradition carries a deeper meaning: besides being a symbol of the birth of new life and well-being, it invokes and blesses the harvest. The belief is that the appearance of the wheat (colour, density, height) would predict what the crop in the following year would be like. In some regions, in addition to the Saint Lucy's Day, wheat is traditionally sown on Saint Barbara's Day, December 4, following a different process as well. The common goal, though, is for the Christmas wheat to grow tall and dense to be proudly presented on the Christmas table, and many people keep it until the New Year.

Although growing it should be a simple process, it seems that there are a few tricks to growing a fruitful, dense pot. That is one of the reasons why many Croatians decide to buy ready-made wheat a day or two before Christmas. Agronomist Sunčica Dombaj shared a few tips. She mentioned insufficient seed germination and growth in unfavorable conditions as the main cause for thin or low wheat. "It would be ideal to keep the wheat at a moderate temperature in the room by the window, that is, in a bright place, and not to overdo it with watering", she emphasized, adding that the wheat should be watered daily, but moderately, by spraying it with a sprayer or simply misting it with your hands soaked in water. Otherwise, the leaves will turn yellow and mold will catch on the wheat. It is important that the container in which you put the wheat is not too deep - some plant it on a plate.

How to plant your own Christmas wheat

Put a layer of garden soil in a shallow container and gently press the germinated wheat seeds in and spray daily. In addition to light, wheat also likes heat, but do not place it directly next to a heat source, radiator or stove. Wheat grows well on cotton wool - many people use this trick. Put a layer of cotton wool about one centimeter thick in a bowl, spray it with water and spread the grains of wheat over it. The method of care is the same as for wheat that is planted in soil. Planting wheat is a perfect activity to do with children, who will then eagerly monitor and follow the progress of the wheat throughout the 12 days before Christmas.

What should you pay particular attention to when planting wheat?

Wheat, regardless of whether it is planted on an earthen substrate or a cotton substrate, should not be sown too thickly, because then a lot of sprouts pop up and elongate in search of a place to grow.

After it germinates and starts to grow, how do you keep wheat green until the New Year?

Wheat's greatest ally in maintenance is moisture. Sunčica advises that instead of watering, wheat should be moistened by spraying and that the soil should not be allowed to dry out. Also, wheat should by no means be supplemented.

Did you know that you can eat the green part of wheat?

Many people grow wheat this way throughout the year. The reason for this is its health benefits in the daily diet. You can also use it in the preparation of your meals - simply cut the green part with scissors and put it in a salad or mix it in yogurt or some kind of drink.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

8 Reasons Croatia is the Best Place to Live in Europe

December 13, 2022 - Where is the best place to live in Europe? For this boy from Manchester, the answer is Croatia. Here are 8 reasons why.

How to describe the mystery of Croatia, beautiful but maddening, chilled but flawed? In our latest book, Croatia a Survival Kit for Foreigners, which I co-wrote with TCN Editor Lauren Simmonds, I describe Croatia as a mixture of Absurdistan, with the best lifestyle in Europe, with a sprinkling of Balkan insanity on top. I can't get enough of it.

Don't get me wrong, living full-time in Croatia is hard work, and as different from that two-week beach holiday as chalk is to cheese. There are many things which drive me nuts here, most notably the corruption and bureaucracy, but with a little mindset shift and a focus on the positive aspects of life, even they can be turned into part of the experience. Living in a perfect country would be very dull, and there is never a dull day in Croatia, that's for sure. 

So what is so special about Croatia that I claim it to be the best place to live in Europe? After 20 years, I honestly don't think I could live anywhere else. It is a very safe country, the safest I have lived in for sure, and you really can't beat the relaxed lifestyle, even if you have to work a little harder to make ends meet. 

Here are eight reasons why I think Croatia is the best place to live in Europe, the latest episode on my new YouTube channel, Paul Bradbury, Croatia and Balkans Expert. Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.



Croatia Expects: A Tiny Country, From Dream to Belief

December 13, 2022 - The atmosphere all over Croatia is electric as the Vatreni attempt to reach their second World Cup Final in a row, but there is a small difference from 2018 - dreaming has been replaced by belief. 

It is an incredible time to be in Croatia, and I doubt there is a country around the globe that has more passion than Croatia when it comes to football. As I posted in a recent video (below), in life and in death, Croats are the world champions of celebration. 

But this year's run to the World Cup Final seems a little different, to me at least, as the hope of the underdog of 2018 has been replaced with something else - belief. 

When I wrote the text for the Croatian National Tourist Board to accompany the promotional video featuring the World Cup stars last time, I called it Take a Tour of Champions in the Tiny Country Which Dared to Dream.

And what a dream it was! The young, tiny country of 4 million with the most passionate fans at Russia 2018 defied the odds again and again, eventually reaching the final itself, before being finally beaten 4-2 by France. 

An incredible 550,000 fans waited hours to line the streets of Zagreb to welcome their heroes home, and Croatia won the hearts of millions all over the globe for their efforts both on and off the pitch. 

Fast forward to 2022 and, although the Croatian team was arguably stronger than last time around, even though they only just qualified, the main hype surrounded the last hurrahs of Messi and Ronaldo, with Brazil the strong favourites. 

Things started inauspicously with a goalless draw with Morocco (not the terrible result it perhaps appeared at the time, given that Morocco beat both Spain and Portugal to reach the other semi-final with France). A thrashing of Canada, inspired perhaps by the Canadian coach's promise to 'F' with Croatia, was followed by another goalless draw with Belgium, which should have been a defeat - at least if Lukaku had known where the goal was.

And then the steel emerged. First Japan, and then favourites Brazil, were cast aside, both on penalties. A new hero, Dominik Livakovic, emerged and is being touted as the new Minister of Defence after his goalkeeping heroics, including an astonishing 4 penalty shoot-out saves. Livakovic is not the only one to attract the interest of the big clubs, with 20-year-old Josko Gvardiol one of the players of the tournament.

And how can one mention Croatia without their talisman Luka Modric, also playing his last World Cup? The spark that makes Croatia tick, Modric has been an inspiration for club and country for as long as we can remember, and he will be desperate to finish with a winning medal. Perhaps all the more so, as Croatian media report, that the final will take place on December 18, 31 years to the day since a 6-year-old Luka lost his beloved grandfather, with whom he used to herd goats, as he was murdered by Serbs in the Homeland War. 

'All' that stands in the way of Modric and co lifting the trophy is Messi's Argentina - a man on borrowed time and a mission of his own - and a potential repeat of the 2018 final, unless Morocco can pull off one more shock to become the first African team to reach the final.

Four years ago, that might have been a daunting task for the tiny country which dared to dream, but the 2022 Croatia team - and the country in general - are so full of belief, it would almost be a shock if Croatia did not go on and win. This Croatian team has shown guts, passion, precision and a never-say-die attitude. Someone told me that Croatia has only been ahead in 8% of the matches so far. 

And yet, here there are, on the cusp of history. It is not how much you are ahead during the match, but at the final whistle. 

Good luck to all my Croatian friends, it is sure to be one hell of a night. 


What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.



Tuesday, 13 December 2022

Argentina Ends Croatia’s Hopes of 2022 World Cup Final (3-0)

December 13, 2022 - Argentina gained revenge on Croatia from the 2018 World Cup and won 3-0 for a spot in the 2022 World Cup final. Croatia will play the match for 3rd place on Saturday against the loser between France and Morocco in their semi-final tomorrow. 

The Croatia national team met Argentina in one of the biggest matches in Croatian football history - their second consecutive World Cup semi-final. The two teams met at Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday night. 

The last time the two teams met was four years ago. Croatia beat Argentina 3-0 in the group phase of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Croatia thus finished first in their group and Argentina in second. 

Croatia finished 2nd in their 2022 World Cup group after drawing 0-0 against Morocco in the first round, beating Canada 4-1 in the second round, and drawing 0-0 against Belgium, which was enough for the round of 16. Croatia beat Japan on penalties in their last-16 tie and knocked out favorites Brazil on penalties in the quarter-final. 

The winner tonight would play in the 2022 World Cup final on Sunday. Both teams had everything to play for - Croatia for Modrić and Argentina for Messi.

Tonight's match was refereed by Italian Daniele Orsato. 


Argentina - Martinez - Molina - Romero - Otamendi - Tagliafico - De Paul - Fernandez - Paredes - Mac Allister - Messi - Alvarez

Croatia - Livaković - Sosa - Gvardiol - Lovren - Juranović - Brozović - Kovačić - Modrić - Perišić - Pašalić - Kramarić

Match report

Croatia had the kickoff and the first possession of the match. Croatia calmly maintained that possession in the first 10 minutes, with one ball into the box from Perisic in the 5th minute. 

Croatia played quick one-twos up the pitch, creating space around the Argentina players. Modric fouled Mac Allister in the 13th minute on an Argentina attack. 

Lovren played a long ball to Pasalic in the 14th minute, which forced Argentina's defense to kick it out for a throw-in. A brilliant play up the right wing with Juranovic and Modric forced the ball out for Croatia's first corner in the 16th minute. 

Croatia was winning the most balls in contest compared to Argentina by the 18th minute. 

Croatia was awarded a free kick after Kovacic was fouled in the 19th minute. 

A dangerous attack by Argentina in the 22nd minute, fortunately, went out for a Croatia goal kick. 

Another Argentina attack in the 25th minute was cleared by Sosa, and Livakovic was forced to make his first save seconds later. 

A quick Croatia counter and a stunning move by Kovacic gave Croatia a foul outside of the box in the 27th minute. 

A quick Argentina counterattack followed, which Luka headed out for an Argentina throw-in. 

A Modric nutmeg on the right wing gave Croatia another brilliant attack. Perisic shot on goal but hit just over the crossbar. 

Another Argentina counterattack resulted in a penalty. Kovacic and Livakovic were both shown yellow cards. Messi scored for 1-0 Argentina in the 34th minute. 

Croatia won another corner in the 37th minute. Luka played it short, and Brozovic's cross was deflected off an Argentina player for another quick counter. Sosa failed to clear the ball properly in the penalty area, and Livakovic committed early. Alvarez turned it into a goal. Argentina was up 2-0 in the 39th minute. 

Argentina won a corner in the 42nd minute, which nearly went in for another goal. Livakovic punched out the ball after another close call for an Argentina throw-in. 

Croatia's best chance at goal was in the 45th minute. Luka's shot deflected off Argentina, and he played it to Juranovic, who sent the ball near post. 

The ref added four minutes of stoppage time. 

The first half ended 2-0 for Argentina. Croatia had 62% of possession in the first half but got caught on Argentina's quick counterattacks, resulting in two goals. 

Dalic made two subs at halftime. Sosa was subbed off for Orsic and Pasalic for Vlasic. 

A foul on Vlasic in the 47th minute was awarded to Croatia just outside the box. Modric sent the ball in but Martinez saved it. 

Dalic subbed off Brozovic for Petkovic in the 50th minute. Croatia was getting knocked off the ball but winning it back. Croatia had a good attack in the 53rd minute, but Petkovic failed to shoot when he should. Vlasic sent the ball into the box, but it went into Argentina's possession. 

Livakovic made an incredible save off a Messi shot in the 58th minute. 

Another free kick for Croatia was awarded on the left sideline in Argentina's half. Argentina subbed off Paredes for Martinez. 

Another great chance for Croatia came in the next minute, forcing Martinez to make a quick save in goal. 

Alvarez fouled Modric on a Croatia counterattack. Romero received a yellow card in the 68th minute. 

Messi was at his best in the 69th minute, outdribbling Gvardiol down the right, setting it up for Alvarez in the penalty area, who scored for 3-0 Argentina. 

Kramaric was subbed off for Livaja in the 72nd minute. 

A free kick for Croatia in the 73rd minute was taken by Perisic. It wasn't an easy save for Martinez. 

Argentina started making subs in the 74th minute. Alvarez for Dybala, and Palacios for De Paul. 

Orsic tried shooting far post in the 77th minute, but it went wide of the goal. This Croatia team just didn't have it today. 

Luka Modric was subbed off for Lovro Majer in the 81st minute. Dalic was trying to give the bench as much playing time as possible - it was the World Cup semi-final, after all. 

Messi missed an open chance in the 83rd minute.

Another chance for Croatia in the 85th minute was played out by the Argentina defense for a Croatia corner. Perisic flicked it back to Lovren, who missed an open goal. 

Majer had a good shot on goal in the 89th minute, which deflected into the hands of Martinez. 

The ref added 5 minutes of stoppage time. Croatia was given a corner in the first minute of stoppage time, which Majer hit into the Argentina defense. 

Kovacic shot with his let foot to end the match. Argentina will be going to the 2022 World Cup final on Sunday and Croatia will play the match for 3rd place on Satuday. 

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 12 December 2022

Harfa International School in Split Expanding, Adding Kindergarten, Elementary, High School

December 12, 2022 - More great news for those looking for international schooling options in Split, as Harfa International School announces an expansion of its services after a very successful start.  

Motivated by excellent feedback from the international audit, Harfa International School is expanding and will offer kindergarten, elementary school as well as high school education next fall!

Some say we can only dream of the Finnish education system. But that is not true anymore for children in Split. The address Osmih mediteranskih igara 2 is located right in the heart of Poljud, in the city of Split. That is where the third generation of elementary school students are being educated, at Harfa International School. As we already learned before, Harfa provides the kind of education we all wish for. A student-oriented education where a "one for all" rule is not applied, where the talents and skills of each child are monitored individually, and the teachers represent mentors, ensuring everyone reaches their full potential. Their own, unique potential.


Curious about the news that Harfa is expanding and opening an international kindergarten as well as a high school alongside the current elementary school, we paid them a visit again. We wanted to find out more details and learn about how they achieve excellent academic results in a way that is so different from other schools.

- Yes, it is true that in addition to the elementary school, we are opening an international kindergarten as well as a high school. We are excited because we received excellent feedback during the visit from the international IB audit. Motivated by their encouragement, confirming that our methods are the right ones, starting the next school year, we are expanding. We follow the international IB Primary Years Program (PYP), balancing it with the Croatian curriculum. In addition to regular classes in the morning, our students have regularly scheduled lunch and two snacks, additional time for studying and writing homework, as well as additional workshops such as drama, chess, mental arithmetic, STEM workshops, music workshops, and individual workshops, depending on the needs. Our goal is to achieve learning outcomes in an interesting and student-oriented way. Our methods are based on inquiry-based teaching, research, projects and teamwork, hands-on learning, but above all, on building strong connections between students and teachers who serve as mentors, while students take responsibility for reaching the classroom goals on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual level. We teach them to understand the importance of life-long learning and to recognize the power of their responsibility in achieving all life goals, including school goals. – we learn this from the school principal Antonia Tomas.


While listening to her explanations and the exciting news about spreading the school offer, we hear the students loudly calling out to their teacher. We find out that they are third-graders who do not allow the teacher to end the lesson until they are done with their plans for the day.

- See, this is the result of allowing children to be co-creators of the lesson plans. Every Monday morning, following the curriculum and the learning outcomes, they plan when and how they will learn about a certain unit. You can see their plan right there on that wall. This is what they have committed themselves to. What do you think; will they skip something? No way! No one wants to leave until the plan is fully executed. – explains the school principal.


- It’s so inspiring seeing children from different cultures communicating fluently in two languages. As an international school, the official language of communication is English, but the children also learn Croatian. It is interesting to see foreigners wanting to learn the Croatian language with great interest and our children helping them in this. In addition, they have enough free time to play and communicate, and they acquire languages ​​very quickly. Seeing a child who recently came from abroad and now speaks Croatian fluently or a Croat who didn't speak English at all and now communicates in that language without any barriers is daily proof of how quickly children acquire knowledge. - explains Dubravka Šušnjara, a first-grade teacher who recently moved from Australia.


We are interested in her experiences in Australia and in Croatia. Which one is better? But she just waves her hand and adds – This is really the center of the world. With Split as a city tailored for a balanced life and this kind of education, we didn't think twice. My husband and I decided to return after 12 years, and the main reason was precisely the fact that there was a school like this here. As I am a teacher myself, I also applied for an open position in the school this year. I am grateful that my child, as well as myself, have the opportunity to be a part of such a change in education. - concludes teacher Dubravka.


We have already written about Harfa International School. What started as an enthusiastic project founded by Harfa - the publishing company, turned into a global example of excellent practice. During the preliminary application, they tell us, for the prestigious international "IB Primary Years Program (PYP)" which was planned only for the future, the international audit gave Harfa the highest marks and suggested entering the accreditation process immediately. This is how a small private school from Split became an international example of excellence in education.


The person behind this inspiring story is Irena Orlović - a psycho-social counselor and one of the main protagonists of Mastercard's short documentary films FIVE, about female entrepreneurs who have changed the world. Irena was chosen as a representative for Europe, and her inspiring story from Croatia was followed by millions of viewers around the world. After 17 years in publishing books by the world's most famous authors in the sphere of children’s socio-emotional development, parenting, and mental health in general, through the award-winning web application Pametnica for the development of children's potential and series of educational workshops for parents, teachers, pedagogues... Irena has decided to turn her rich experience into a school in order to set an example that educational reform, in the best possible way, is very possible in practice.


- Many refer to the successful "Finnish" model of education. - Irena tells us. - Some things are culturally determined, and some took years of work to change. Finland, too, carried out its reform more than 20 years ago at a time when it was clear that the same path was no longer sustainable. Some other models in the world can also be analyzed, and we can learn something from all of them. This is what we do at Harfa International School. We collect the best world practices, both scientific research about a child’s well-being, as well as best school practices, and we adapt them to our needs. The third generation is underway, and I can only say that we are very excited about the results we see every day.

We are often asked if the children in our school have grades. The grades exist, but the students are self-reflecting with the support of the teacher-mentor. I want to highlight that our world does not revolve around grades. Our world revolves around creating quality relationships between teachers and students, around strengthening that trust as a basis for everything else. At the end of the year, the children give their own opinion about which grade they deserve. Don't fall into the trap of thinking they are giving themselves the highest grades. They are very self-critical and their conclusions are rarely different from reality. This is how we teach them to take responsibility for their actions from an early age. Our goal is to encourage curiosity and develop a passion for learning through research, practical work, and projects, by connecting information with real-life situations. We prepare children for the future where they will be ready for all the challenges they will have to face, and this is the essence of education, isn’t it? – Irena Orlović ends her story seriously.


We are interested in learning how long it takes for children to be able to give themselves an objective assessment.

- People do not function "at the press of a button!" Everything I mentioned earlier requires a lot of work and patience. And, of course, trust in teachers. I know it's hard to accept a different path when we have expectations that have been imprinted in our heads for generations. But, it is clear to all of us that we do not all have the same "settings". Someone will get to the destination in one way, others in a different way. The point is that everyone will reach their goal, which is the fulfillment of their full potential. And trust me, this will happen if they are offered the space and the right means to do so. - she explains.

While we are talking, children approach us with trays of food. Today, along with a salad, they have polenta and tomato sauce on the menu.

- We plan the menu in cooperation with nutritionists, but many children have already learned in their families that healthy is better. Try them! Offer them chocolate and an apple and let's see which one they will choose! - laughs Irena. We don't even need to check, we see that they would choose the healthy option. It is very clear that this school is trying its best to make the students fall in love with studying.


- Yes, we want children to like learning. Our goal is to make inquiry learning and knowledge acquisition their passion. We do not want to instill dry facts in them because the brain remembers what is interesting and important. To some, it looks like we are just playing with the children, but science has proven that this way is more effective in the long run. Let's look around. Take a look at your own children. Do they remember better when they "learn by heart" out of a book or when you tell them an interesting story, play with them, do some research with them and connect information with real-life situations familiar to them? There isn't even much wisdom there. Changes in education only require a lot of self-motivation and an effort to connect with children in a way that is in line with their needs. Yes, the challenges of technology and its impact are not negligible, but wasn't that the case throughout various historical periods in times when changes were made? - explains Irena.

Through children’s laughter, we hear a barely perceptible echoing sound. Suddenly, silence. Irena quietly explains: - Children know when it's time to play and when it's time to concentrate and study. When they hear this vibrating bell, it's time to learn.

The drama workshop will start soon.

- Through drama, they develop presentation skills, face the fear of public speaking, practice self-confidence, memory, concentration... and many other things. To be ready for the future, we should start on time and without pressure, through the game. The same thing is with the other workshops. Chess, mental arithmetic, STEM workshops, music workshops, debates, mental health empowerment workshops, entrepreneurship workshops... each of these workshops is carefully designed to support the learning outcomes, but also the development of soft skills and knowledge needed to face the challenges of the future.

- I used to believe that the same and even better results could be achieved differently from what we had in our traditional education system. Now, I have no doubts about it at all. Three classes at Harfa International School prove that every day. The point of education is to get to know each child, what makes them happy and motivated, and to support them in that. Therefore, I decided that for the next school year, we will open a school center where we will follow our children on their life path from the age of 3 to 18. We are now in the process of opening a kindergarten and a high school, in addition to the existing elementary school according to our program. – explains Irena Orlović, and the slogan of her school is "School for the Future".

Learn more about Harfa International School on the official website.


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