Wednesday, 30 March 2022

New Secondary School Enrolment Rules Give More Weight to Entrance Exams

ZAGREB, 30 March 2022 - Croatia's education ministry has prepared new rules for enrolment in secondary schools, whereby schools can hold entrance exams that will award more points to entrants.

Apart from their grade average during elementary education and successes in previous contests and school competitions, the performance of the candidates in entrance exams will also carry some weight in the final ranking.

Entrance exams can be conducted to assess the knowledge of the Croatian language, mathematics, the first foreign language as well as of subjects important for the continuation of secondary education.

The new rules envisage that school-age foreigners from the countries outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland, can also enrol in Croatian secondary schools as regular students  free of paying costs, provided that some other relevant conditions are met.

These specific rules for students who have foreign citizenship take into consideration bilateral agreements, student exchange, and the temporary residence given to students for family reunions or for humanitarian reasons, when their parents are asylum-seekers or apply for international protection.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Proposal to Amend Foreign Qualifications Recognition Act

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - The proposal to amend the Foreign Qualifications Recognition Act provides for the recognition of post-secondary school education that is not part of the higher education system, Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The existing law does not provide for the recognition of foreign regulated professions and is not harmonised with strategic EU documents, so it was necessary to draw up the new proposal, the minister said. The new law is expected to facilitate access to the labour market for skilled labour and provide protection from poor qualifications, he added.

The recognition of foreign qualifications would be done by the Agency for Science and Higher Education, the Agency for Vocational Education and Training, and the Education and Teacher Training Agency.

The recognition of qualifications obtained abroad for the purpose of continuing education in Croatia would be carried out by education institutions where further education will be pursued.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Changes to Vocational Education Regulate Learning Based on Work Practice

ZAGREB, 20 Jan 2022 - In a bid to enable better integration on the labor market and more practical knowledge of vocational students, changes to vocational education are defined to base learning on work practice and determine locations to achieve such goals: at school, with an employer or at a regional competence center.

Outlining the draft amendments, Education Minister Radovan Fuchs presented the cabinet meeting on Thursday with the findings of a survey conducted by the ministry together with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) in the period from 2016 to 2018 which show that there is a growing gap between the supply of qualified workers and demand on the labor market.

The survey showed that more intensified cooperation is required between vocational schools and employers included in training students.

The results show that employers' stances indicated that young people have an insufficient level of competencies after they finish vocational school and that the main problem is the lack of practical knowledge required to perform certain jobs.

That is the reason for reforms in this segment of education, said Fuchs, and they are related to the further upgrade of the system, developing a new curriculum with emphasis on the green and digital transition, establishing a firm framework of support to employers and schools to further develop educational institutions.

In addition to strengthening learning based on work practice by connecting schools and employers, a key change relates to improving the system to ensure quality vocational education, setting up mechanisms and criteria to motivate students to choose skills needed in the labor market, improve the conditions for the further development of regional competence centers, and to ensure a quality curriculum.

"The amendments are aimed at improving the connectivity between the education system with the labor market," he said.

The amendments introduce, among other things, the expert overseeing of students in work practice activities, and for that purpose, a commission will be set up consisting of representatives of the economy ministry, the vocational education institution, the agency for vocational education, and adult training, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce and the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts. Also, the duties of leaders at Vocational Education and Training are being defined.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Covid Certificate Related Dismissals in Croatian Education System to Come

November the 25th, 2021 - With stories now becoming more and more common in which people are dismissed or suspended without payment due to not presenting a valid covid certificate or refusing to regularly test, are covid certificate related dismissals set to come to the Croatian education system as well? It seems so.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, at the beginning of December this year, the first extraordinary dismissals can be expected in the Croatian education system for those employees who haven't been vaccinated and are refusing coronavirus testing, announced the president of the union Zeljko Stipic, emphasising that this week, the first warnings were handed out to teachers without covid certificates.

"The first warnings have been issued. There haven't been too many of them, and we'll know how many exactly there have been when we collect all the data. What we currently know is that there are about fifty of our members who didn't want to be vaccinated or get tested, but this doesn't represent the number of those people who received warnings, because in the meantime there were those who changed their minds. Either they got vaccinated, or they agreed to be tested,'' Stipic said.

There are also those, he added, who asked for unpaid leave due to their decision not to be tested or vaccinated, and the school principals approved it, there are also those who decided to use their sick leave.

"According to the proposal of the competent Ministry, an employee who doesn't present the a covid certificate is issued with a warning first, and then comes the second warning. The second warning comes after an employee fails to present a covid certificate or test result within a period of seven days, and if they've failed to justify their absence from the classroom in another acceptable way. In that same second warning, the school principal issues a warning before initiating the procedure of extraordinary termination of that person's employment contract,'' explained Stipic.

The fact that the first warnings began to be handed out to those working within the Croatian education system has also been confirmed by the president of the Association of High School Principals, Suzana Hitrec, as Novi list reported.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Is Religious Education for Croatian Children in 2021 Provoking Intolerance to Minorities?

March the 5th, 2021 - A highly questionable piece of school work aimed at young impressionable Croatian children has been doing the rounds on social media. A religious studies teacher apparently deems it acceptable to ask children whether or not they´d want to travel with a gay man, someone infected with AIDS, a Serbian soldier from Bosnia or a prostitute from Berlin. Yes, you read that correctly.

As Index/Andrea Topic writes, a Croatian religious studies teacher from a primary school near Rijeka handed out papers to children which contain some deeply derogatory terms which are above all unacceptable, but even more unacceptable to put into the hands of young Croatian children.

This religious studies ¨task¨ also problematises "an African woman who is selling leather products", mentions "a Roma person who has just been released from prison", then "an Indian woman with a one-year-old child", as well as "a Croatian tycoon".

Among those mentioned on the list were an abortion specialist, a computer hacker, a Jehovah's Witness, a very successful Hollywood actress from Turkey, an English footballer, a rapper living an alternative lifestyle and a young artist suffering from AIDS.

It is difficult to even know where to begin when it comes to just how wholly inappropriate and offensive such a list is, and to repeat myself, giving such a list to children who nowhere near the age at which such things would enter their heads is almost beyond comprehension.

The question addressed to the eighth graders reads as follows:

¨You´re boarding a train which is going to travel along the Zagreb-India route. The journey will take one week. You are travelling in a compartment with three other people. Imagine getting a list of people you can choose from as companions in your compartment. The people are the following...¨ the religious teacher begins when asking innocent school children to list three individuals they would like to travel on this train with and three people they would not want to travel with at all.

The competent Ministry is now involved.

Sandra Krpan, the principal of the Milan Brozovic Kastav Elementary School, was later made familiar with the offensive content that is still spreading across social media much to the disgust of parents and other users.

"The religious studies teacher did give a textbook out to the eighth grade students. I asked her to provide me with a written statement after a phone conversation. The school's expert associate, a social pedagogue, was involved in the conversation because we consider the content inappropriate, although the religious studies teacher said that the work was given out to teach the children not to hold any prejudices against other people,¨ claims the principal of the school which is located in Kastav.

She added that her institution is absolutely committed to peace, tolerance and respect for diversity.

The translation of the document in full is below:

EURO-TRAIN

You are boarding a train heading between Zagreb and India. The journey will take one week. You are travelling in a cabin with three other passengers. Imagine that you have been given a list of those other passengers and you can choose who you travel with in your cabin. The people are as follows:

A gay man

A Serbian soldier from Bosnia

An African woman selling leather products

A young artist infected/suffering with AIDS

A Roma person who has just been released from prison

A rapper who lives an alternative lifestyle

An Indian woman with a one-year-old

A prostitute from Berlin

An English footballer

A Turkish actress who has become very successful in Hollywood

A Croatian tycoon

A Jehova´s Witness

A computer hacker

A doctor who specialises in abortions

An older monk with a bible in his hands

Your work task: Choose three people with whom you´d like to travel and three with whom you definitely wouldn´t want to travel.

List the reasons for the choice of either being FOR or AGAINST

The task at hand is allegedly there to promote tolerance and this appears to have been backed up by an original document written in English. It was published in 1995 (what we can offer you is the second edition of the manual, published in 2016: link opens a .pdf file) as an education pack by the Council of Europe, aimed at non-adults and their intercultural education. The original of the document which made the rounds in the Croatian media today can be found on the page 80, and it includes a Serbian soldier from Bosnia, an overweight Swiss financial broker, an Italian disc-jockey who seems to have plenty of dollars, an African woman selling leather products, a young artist who is HIV positive, a Roma man (Gypsy or traveller) from Hungary just released from jail, a Basque nationalist who travels regularly to Russia, a German rapper living a very alternative life-style, a blind accordion player from Austria, a Ukrainian student who doesn't want to go home, a middle-aged Romanian woman who has no visa and a 1-year old child in her arms, a Dutch hard-line and aggressive feminist, a skinhead from Sweden ostensibly under the influence of alcohol, a wrestler from Belfast apparently going to a football match, a Polish prostitute from Berlin, a French farmer who speaks only French and has a basket full of strong cheese, and a Kurdish refugee living in Germany who is on his way back from Libya.

A careful reading of the two lists will have you puzzled, obviously. The Croatian list includes "a homosexual" and "a doctor who performs abortions", both obviously missing from the international list from the posted link. Why was it that those two categories were added? If only we knew... And, besides, in an exercise such as this one, what is inherently more interesting than the questions asked is how the answers are received. And we're only left guessing as far as that goes.

The Ministry says it is not their responsibility.

"That is what we teach our students. We´re sorry if these were inappropriate messages to give out to our students. We will inform the Ministry of Education and the Archdiocese of Rijeka about everything and act in accordance with the rules and the law," concluded Krpan.

Index asked the Ministry of Education for a statement, but they said that the control over professional and pedagogical work is carried out by the Agency for Education, and that the catechetical episcopal office takes care of the employment of religious education teachers. They then contacted the aforementioned agency and are still waiting for a response.

The Rijeka archdiocese said they were gathering information on the matter. "We are waiting for the official statement of the said religious teacher and the school. In that sense, we cannot give you any other sort of broader statement," they said briefly.

Article update - some feedback from a reader who went the story in more detail:

Re Index article and TCN translation about the vjeronauk class: The story of the questionnaire about prejudice gets interesting. I took the trouble to scan through the document one of the commenters quoted. This is a document designer to offer a toolkit to teachers and others to expose various prejudices. Clearly well thought out and a lot of work went into it. However, on p 80, the list is somewhat different. It is much  more neutral. For example it does not include 'homosexual' or 'doctor who performs abortions'. Clearly someone has adapted the list for their own purposes.

Here is the list as given in the document:

THE SCENARIO

You are boarding the « Deer Valley Express » train for a week-long ride from Lisbon to Moscow. You are travelling in a couchette compartment which you have to share with three other people. With which of the following passengers would you prefer to share?

1. A Serbian soldier from Bosnia.

2. An overweight Swiss financial broker.

3. An Italian disk-jockey who seems to have plenty of dollars.

4. An African woman selling leather products.

5. A young artist who is HIV positive.

6. A Roma man (Gypsy or traveller) from Hungary just released from jail.

7. A Basque nationalist who travels regularly to Russia.

8. A German rapper living a very alternative life-style.

9. A blind accordion player from Austria.

10. A Ukrainian student who doesn’t want to go home.

11. A middle-aged Romanian woman who has no visa and a 1 year old child in her arms.

12. A Dutch hard-line and aggressive feminist.

13. A skinhead from Sweden ostensibly under the influence of alcohol.

14. A wrestler from Belfast apparently going to a football match.

15. A Polish prostitute from Berlin.

16. A French farmer who speaks only French and has a basket full of strong cheese.

17. A Kurdish refugee living in Germany who is on his way back from Libya.

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