Monday, 18 July 2022

Secondary School Students from Petrinja and Sisak Go on Summer Holiday in Hungary

ZAGREB, 18 July 2022 - The first group of 42 students from Petrinja Secondary School and the Sisak School of Economics, and three travelling companions left on Monday for a summer camp in Hungary.

The secondary school students will spend eight days on their summer holiday in Hungary.

This is a result of good cooperation between Sisak-Moslavina County and the Hungarian government, which made it possible for about a hundred secondary school students to attend a summer camp in two groups, on 18-25 July and on 25-31 July.

The students will be accommodated in a hotel with a swimming pool, near Lake Velence, and Hungarian hosts will provide them with a variety of cultural activities and entertainment. The programme includes a trip to Pécs, where they will visit the Croatian House and go sightseeing, a trip to Tihany, where they will visit the Benedictine monastery and the Visitors' Centre, and a trip to Székesfehérvár, where they will visit the Bory Castle, the St. Stephen Museum, and other sights.

The second group of students, who are to visit Hungary on 25-31 July, includes students from Sisak Technical School, Sisak Gymnasium, Sisak Industrial and Crafts School, Viktorovac Secondary School, Sisak Vocational School, Ivan Trnski Secondary School in Hrvatska Kostajnica and Topusko Secondary School.

Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Ivan Celjak was pleased that secondary school students had the opportunity to go on a free summer holiday, just like primary school students who are currently on holiday in Split.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Education Minister Says Extremely Difficult School Year Successfully Completed

ZAGREB, 21 June 2022 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs on Tuesday congratulated pupils, teachers, head teachers, Ministry and local government officials on the successful completion of the school year, the first two-thirds of which, he said, were extremely difficult due to the pandemic and earthquake.

The minister also expressed hope that the next year would pass without too much stress, the pandemic, and other difficulties.

Addressing the press after a government session, the minister added that according to World Health Organisation surveys, Croatia had the lowest number of days of online classes in the 2021/2022 school year.

Fuchs said that this year, national exams had been conducted for the first time in the eighth grade in 80 primary schools, providing insight into what should be done next.

Next year, all eighth grades in Croatia will sit for the national exam. The minister pointed out those exams would not be graded, since they are intended for the evaluation of the system and would be used to improve educational facilities and as guidelines for teacher training colleges.

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Teachers Need to Be Educated About Students' Mental Health

ZAGREB, 7 June 2022 - Nearly three-quarters of school staff do not know how to recognize problems related to students' mental health or how to help them even though they would like to do so, hence they need to be educated, it was said on Tuesday ahead of this year's UNICEF Milky Way charity race.

This year, UNICEF will support the Milky Way race with a standardized mental health literacy program for teachers called "Help Me", implemented by the Croatian Institute of Public Health with the support of the Agency for Education.

The head of the Living Healthy program, Sanja Musić Milanović, said that in 2017, a survey was conducted on the health literacy of educators.

"The results showed that almost all of them or as many as 95% are willing to learn how to recognise and react to mental health problems of their students. However, 76% do not dare do anything because they do not know how they can help," she said.

That is why we need "education for educators," Musić Milanović said and invited citizens to join and support the education program. She added that physical activity is extremely important for maintaining mental health but also for the prevention of obesity and other health problems associated with being overweight.

The Milky Way race has attracted about 20,000 participants and raised about HRK 2.5 million. This year's edition is especially important because it comes after a challenging and stressful period marked by the pandemic and earthquakes, said the head of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, Regina Castillo.

Mental health means a better quality of life, and the first signs of mental health problems appear as early as childhood and puberty. Problems are present in 12% of young people between the ages of 10 and 19, Castillo said. 

"Research conducted in Croatia indicates that the mental health of young people after the pandemic is deteriorating. "The idea behind the 'Help Me' program is to help people between the ages of 14 and 16 because that's when they feel powerless," the director of the Education Agency, Dubravka Brezak Stamać, said.

UNICEF's Milky Way charity race will take place from 9 to 18 September throughout Croatia. Citizens can participate by walking, running, cycling, rollerblading or by making a donation and in that way help raise awareness of the importance of the mental health of children and young people.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 2 May 2022

History of Vukovar or History in Vukovar? No, Our Future Please

May 3, 2022 – Vukovar is indeed full of life. The 3rd of May is Vukovar Day, marking the day it became a free royal town in 1231, and the day of Saints Philip and James who became Vukovar’s patron saints when their church was built in 1723.

Traditionally, this day is a bank holiday in Vukovar, with celebrations and events in the city centre. With the Svi zaJedno Hrvatsko Naj festival leaning onto Vukovar Day, the city becomes the site of culture, sports, gastronomy, music, and more, for over a week. And if you take a closer look, you will see that it’s Vukovar’s youngest who make the city come alive. The little ones are jumping with joy and running between the stalls, the decorations, and the popcorn vendors, and our high schoolers are even here to teach us something. And if you listen closely, you can hear them speak both Croatian and Serbian.history vukovar.jpg

Courtesy of TZ Vukovar / Marko Balaži

This co-existence in Vukovar still sparks debate among those who know about its history, and curiosity among those who are yet to learn. On this Vukovar day, we decided to have a look at history in hopes of making a step in the right direction for our future. We went to schools in Vukovar, both primary and secondary, where we had a chance to speak to the headmasters and teachers. The guiding thought was the idea that the subject of history is a sensitive area, especially in Serbian minority classes. This question has been explored before, with varying conclusions, so we wanted to see where we stand in 2022. The outcome is interesting, but not surprising, refreshing, and yet completely normal.

The demography of Vukovar

Vukovar has historically been a diverse urban centre, whose population throughout the 20th century was made up of the Croatian, Serbian, Hungarian and German nationalities to varying extents, with the Serbian population steadily growing and reaching 25,5% in 1948 and 32,3% in 1990, whereas the German and Hungarian population significantly declined during the same period. In 1990, the Croatian population made 47,2% of its 44,639 inhabitants. It is important to note that the social structure of the city kept changing throughout the 20th century due to the Yugoslavian policies, as well as the fact that the socialist state discouraged expressing religious beliefs or national identity in everyday life. Our interlocutors who have lived all their lives in Vukovar shared that in pre-war Vukovar “you wouldn’t know other people’s nationalities or beliefs” (I.A., 68), “unless in a political situation, no one cared” (A.J., 63), “in everyday human lives it did not matter one bit, we all played together as kids, grew up together and watched our children grow up together” (J.G., 72). Their memories of the city make their faces light up and their eyes sparkle, and they happily share stories of life by the river, the best ice cream, friendship, and family. The things that mattered. Of course, the events of 1991 shattered that image of the city and it took decades to start even imagining something like that again.history of vukovar.png

"The Danube Bath", courtesy of Vukovar Municipal Museum

Model A for the education of national minorities

Like anywhere else, the rights of national minorities in Croatia are emphasized and respected in all aspects of life. One of the areas serving as a constant source of inspiration for debate in Vukovar is schooling. In Croatia, schools follow a three-model system (A, B, C) with several additional programs (such as summer school ). In model A, minority language and writing systems are fully adopted, with the Croatian language taking an equal amount of school hours as the minority language. Model B uses both Croatian and minority languages, with social subjects taught in the minority language. Model C teaches minority languages and cultures as an additional subject, with all other instruction and teaching done in Croatian.

In Vukovar, models A and C are most often chosen by minorities, with model A being the most likely choice of the Serbian national minority. What this means is that schools following model A will often have students of the same age group take separate classes based on the chosen model (i.e. if they are a member of the minority group or not). The purpose of the three models is the preservation of minority languages and cultures with enough flexibility to accommodate for integration.

Peaceful reintegration of the Danube Region and the history moratorium

One of the conditions of the Serbian representatives in the peace negotiations of 1997 was that there was a moratorium put on the teaching of Vukovar’s recent history in national minority classes. The moratorium lasted 5 years and officially ended in 2003. From 2003 to 2022 it has been a rocky road, and there were numerous attempts to have a peek behind the scenes and see if the sensitive parts of history are being taught in minority classrooms. Sensationalist headlines would appear, stating that Croatian history is only taught over something like 3 pages in the Serbian textbook written in Serbian using the Cyrillic writing, that teachers deliberately skip and ignore the whole section, that they twist it, etc. Having spoken to headmasters, teachers, parents, and students, the truth is simple – it is highly individual, and if teachers feel strongly about the topic, they might be inclined to adapt their way of teaching. The opinions of parents are varying, some feel strongly, and some don’t, depending mostly on the generation they belong to. What probably sums it up best, are the words of the mother of a second-grader, stating that “we cannot avoid the topic, certainly not in 2022. No matter which classroom my children attend, they will learn about the events and hopefully, they will be able to form their own opinions. What we want for them is to live a normal life and grow up in a society of equal opportunity”. (S.G.)

The headmasters of primary schools and secondary schools all agree that they are currently facing much bigger issues, some caused by the pandemic, some by the modern way of life, but that history on this or that side has become a rather dry topic which is not in their control anyway. They emphasize that having started from completely separate classrooms, teachers, subjects, and extracurricular activities, students these days all play together, attend workshops and sports clubs, take part in competitions and plays, and even go on excursions, exchanges, and cultural events together, forming separate groups around things like celebrity crushes, candy or games, and not nationality.

Like it or not, Vukovar is healing as nature always finds a way

The honest truth is it has been 30 years and time and nature have started doing their thing. A change of generations has happened. Make no mistake, what happened in Vukovar in 1991 were inhuman atrocities that can never be denied, and there is a lot of injustice still making it that much harder even after 30 years. Unfortunately, those who deserve punishment might never be punished for the crimes they committed but let us not punish those who had nothing to do with it, those who are at the same time the future of our city. Children are children, they might grow up to become assholes or they might go on to save the world. They might learn history in Croatian written in Latin writing, or that could be Serbian in Cyrillic writing. Chances are, they will find it equally boring and would much rather play than study. Some might be fascinated by it. They are all different. We are all different. Maybe it’s time to start learning from the young ones and celebrate diversity while working together for a better future for all of us. history of vukovar 2.jpg

 National day against peer violence, courtesy of OŠ Siniše Glavaševića

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

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Nearly 1,000 Ukraine Pupils in Croatian Schools Mastering Biggest Hurdle, Language

ZAGREB, 17 April 2022 - Almost 1,000 Ukrainian children have been enrolled in Croatian kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and their biggest problem is the language, but they are mastering Croatian quickly so as to integrate into the new environment as well as possible

Of the 983 children who have arrived in Croatia due to the war in Ukraine, 838 have been enrolled in primary, 64 in secondary schools, and 80 in kindergartens.

To date, 116 elementary school pupils have been enrolled in 42 Zagreb schools, 91 in 30 schools in Split-Dalmatia County, 81 in schools in Lika-Senj County, 73 in 22 schools in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, and 67 in schools Varaždin County.

Speaking to Hina, Dražena Aračić, headmistress of a primary school in Korenica, Lika-Senj County where 55 Ukrainian children have been enrolled, said everything was being done so they could fit as well as possible in curricular and extracurricular activities and feel welcome first and foremost.

She said they were traumatised by war and separated from their families, so the education ministry approved the school's request to hire a counsellor.

Goranka Štefančić, headmistress of a primary school in Varaždinske Toplice, Varaždin County with 20 Ukrainian pupils, said they had assimilated very well and that one could not see that they came from a war zone.

The school's teachers have taken a free online course in Ukrainian, she told Hina, adding that as of 16 March the Ukrainian pupils are fully included in regular classes, and that numerous donors have provided them with the things they need for school.

Davor Juriša, headmaster of a primary school in Kraljevica, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County which has nine Ukrainian pupils, said that in preparing for their arrival, the school consulted with representatives of the Red Cross and other relevant institutions so that integration could be as simple as possible.

Other pupils have welcomed them very well, he told Hina.

All three principals said the biggest barrier in the integration of Ukrainian pupils was the Croatian language. Aračić said it was a little easier for those who spoke English, but added that they were learning Croatian pretty quickly.

Štefanić said learning Croatian was held every day for two hours at her school and that the pupils were making quick progress.

Due to the situation, the school allows pupils to use mobile phones during classes so they can use translation apps in order to communicate, she added.

At the Kraljevica school, Ukrainian pupils learn Croatian twice a week.

In order to further their integration, Ukrainian children are included in extracurricular activities, from art workshops and learning other languages to sports.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 11 April 2022

10 Croatian Secondary Schools Chosen for Participation in EU Youth Project

11 April 2022 - The secondary school in Vela Luka on the southern island of Korčula has been chosen along with another nine Croatian secondary schools for participation in a European Union youth project.

The project, called "The Future of Europe: the European Year of Youth", was launched by Croatian member of the European Parliament Predrag Fred Matić and lasts until the end of this year. It involves over 4,300 Croatian secondary school students, who will raise key issues faced by their communities and propose solutions.

In addition to Vela Luka, secondary schools in Vukovar, Čakovec, Velika Gorica, Split, Slavonski Brod, Konjščina, Pula, Petrinja and Krk also participate in the project.

Participation in this project is of special importance to a small island school such as the one in Vela Luka, which has about 120 students and 28 teachers.

"This project will give our students a chance to speak about their problems and get actively involved in EU decision making processes," the Head of Vela Luka Secondary School, Ofelija Dragojević, told Hina.

The school, established in 1952, provides four-year programs in humanities and social sciences and in economics, as well as three-year programs for chefs and ship engineers. In 2021, it was chosen for the fourth time as a European Parliament Ambassador School.

The participating students will work on topics relating to education, unemployment, culture, sports, politics, ecology and problems faced by vulnerable groups among young people. Each school will focus on a specific area, and the students in Vela Luka will deal with cultural and sports activities for young people. They will identify key problems and discuss them first with individuals, organisations and institutions in their local community and then with those at the EU level.

The students in Vela Luka will present specific problems faced by young people on their island, in particular the lack of cultural and sports amenities and activities with which they could fill their free time, as well as connectivity.

More information about the European Year of Youth is available at https://europa.eu/youth/year-of-youth_hr.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Croatian Schools Suggest Classes End Around June 15, Not June 21

March 26, 2022 - The Ministry of Education has released the calendar of the new school year for public discussion among Croatian schools. According to it, the next school year would start on September 5 and end on June 21.

The exception, as before, is the students of the final grades of high schools whose classes end on May 26, reports Jutarnji List. And this time the holidays are many: the autumn break begins on October 31 and classes are already on November 2; the winter holidays are in two parts - the first from 27 December to 5 January (with classes starting on 9 January) and the second part from 20 to 24 February (classes from 27 February). The spring break for students will follow from April 6 to 14, with classes starting on April 17.

Although the next school year is scheduled to end on a day like this (June 21), a public debate among Croatian schools is proposing a return to the old solution, when classes ended earlier, usually around June 15. "It would be good for students to start their summer vacation earlier, so corrections based on summer vacation are necessary for a complete calendar, and there is room for correction," the discussion proposal reads.

While it is praised that students have more short breaks during the year, the comments state that everything that enters the third week in June is not good. Students are overworked, teachers are burned out, and climatic conditions are often unbearable. In these conditions, it is extremely difficult to maintain the high level of concentration required by the end of the school year, the proponents of returning to an earlier summer vacation explain.

As an additional argument, they offer enrollment in high schools ending in the second half of July. "I think that classes should end earlier in June, as was the case until recently, so around mid-June. Classes until the second half of June, when it is already very hot, will be very uncomfortable. Most schools do not have air conditioning,", they said.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Student Self-testing in Croatia: Principals Receive Instructions

February 9, 2022 - Student self-testing in Croatia should begin soon as the Ministry of Science and Education has sent instructions to principals.

How will it look?
Index.hr reports that the procedure should be as follows: The Civil Protection Headquarters will deliver rapid antigen tests to schools. Schools will then distribute the tests to parents or guardians, or students. Testing is conducted once a week by a parent, guardian, or student. If the test result is positive, information about the positive test is reported to the educational institution's selected family doctor or pediatrician.

All students with a negative result continue to attend classes regularly, and if they test positive, they do not come to school.

Testing is repeated for the entire class in which positive test results are determined the first day after a student receives a positive Covid test.

What did Fuchs say about it today?
Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs commented on student self-testing in an interview with HRT today, confirming that the distribution of tests has begun.

Fuchs called the process of rapid antigen testing "a de facto process of abolishing self-isolation for students so that all those who are not ill are in school." However, he also said that this was not a step towards mandatory testing or vaccination.

Fuchs said the first part of the tests, about 300,000, went to Dalmatia yesterday.

"At the end of this or the beginning of next week, all schools will have tests available."
"Of course, we are going to the islands as a priority, as it is a bit more difficult to distribute there, and that's why we went to the Dalmatian regions first.

The rest, up to a million, arrive maybe today in civil protection warehouses, and the moment these tests are received, they immediately move on to schools. So I think by the end of the week or early next week, all schools will have tests available," Fuchs said.

“We have said that this student testing is voluntary and that parents will declare in one piece of paper whether or not they will conduct testing of their child,” he said.

What if someone refuses?
"All those who refuse, de facto, nothing will happen to them, nor the children, of course, except that the moment a positive student appears in the class, or possibly someone from that child's environment becomes ill, that child will have to go into isolation," Fuchs said.

He also said that these tests are very similar to those that can be bought in pharmacies and that, unlike PCR, it is not inserted deep into the nose with a test cotton swab or stick. Still, a swab is taken from the front of the nasal cavity, and it is a straightforward procedure.

There are no repressive measures.
Fuchs also said that parents who will not test their children and will say that they were negative will not be traced because they do not intend to apply any repressive measures.

“I hope the parents are responsible enough and won’t cheat because this is done so that the education system would virtually abolish self-isolation using a self-testing system,” he said. 

"These slogans, shouts and petitions 'We don't give our children' are quite incomprehensible; I don't understand them, no one touches children. In fact, after these two years of the pandemic, we are doing everything to give children a more normal life and attend school better," said Fuchs.

"Removing both testing and self-isolation if field data justify it."
Fuchs also said that if the number of positives dropped significantly, in February, they would switch to the testing variant only in those classes when it is ordered. It would be ordered when a positive case occurs.

"And after that, we would go for the complete abolition of both testing and self-isolation if the data from the field justify it," Fuchs said. He also said that they did not consider testing children in kindergartens.

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.

Monday, 10 January 2022

2nd Semester of School Year Starts Mainly with Classroom Lessons

ZAGREB, 10 Jan 2022 -  The second semester of the 2021-2022 school year began on Monday in Croatia, with face-to-face classes in most schools, however, online classes are being organized in 24 schools this week in eight out of 20 counties due to current epidemiological developments.

Of those 24 schools, seven are in Zadar County, five in Split-Dalmatia County, and four in Šibenik-Knin County and Vukovar-Srijem County each.

The Buje-based grammar school in the Italian language is organizing mixed-type lessons.

On 7 January, Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said that primary and secondary school students accounted for 8.7% of coronavirus cases and that this was an argument in favor of schools staying open, adding that no county had requested switching to online classes.

Speaking on Croatian Television, he said not even counties with very high COVID numbers had opted for closing schools, adding that the impact of online classes "is very hard" on students.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Krizevci Students Present Products and Entrepreneurial Ideas

January the 1st, 2022 - Krizevci students have showcased their ability to come up with innovative product ideas and enter into often challenging entrepreneurial waters.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ivan Tominac writes, with the cooperation of the Krizevci Secondary School of Economics and the Krizevci Entrepreneurship Centre, young people are also showcasing how they too can become entrepreneurs.

Investing in the applicable knowledge of young people is necessary for their growth, and this is exactly the approach taken when it comes to these talented Krizevci students.

They educate young people there for professions in the field of agriculture, and with the initiative of Professor Gorana Pavicic, the cooperation of the Krizevci Secondary School of Economics and the Krizevci Entrepreneurship Centre (KPC), young professionals are upping their chances of success in entrepreneurship.

Thanks to this initiative, fourth grade Krizevci students managed to combine their theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as improve their competencies and skills in terms of establishing and organising business and designing innovative types of agricultural products and services. The fact that these Krizevci students of this school really have entrepreneurial potential is also shown by their ideas, which are both varied and innovative.

In the second half of the year, they will continue their cooperation within the subject "Independent Management", where third grade students will independently develop business plans for the economy and the subject "The Organisation of Agricultural Production" through which they will learn the importance of different measures, incentives and tenders.

This approach, in addition to awakening entrepreneurial potential in young people, solves the big problem of financial literacy among them, too. In this way, young people gain knowledge about proper financial management, which could be a valuable input for them from the moment when they finish their high school education and get acquainted with the demanding labour market.

"If you don't have financial resources and some form of financial background, you don't have the opportunity to realise your business ideas and projects. As part of one of the courses, Krizevci students researched how to finance their business ideas, studied which banks offer which financing opportunities, whether there is any financial support or any measures that would be in line with their chosen economic activities, and there were also ideas floated about financial partnerships,'' Pavicic pointed out.

"This plan and programme exists and it should definitely be adhered to, but it's up to us professors to choose the way in which we'll implement that plan and programme. We want to bring knowledge as close as possible to the students themselves, and I think that the best way to do that is with practical classes, practical exercises and tasks, which is actually a characteristic of our school. Since we have a farming, gardening, fruit growing, cattle breeding, dairy and mechanical practicum in the school, we try to connect theory and practice as much as possible. The great thing in all this is the support of the director Toni Svoboda,'' said Pavicic.

"Expectations at the end of the high school year are certainly the ability and independence of students to start their own businesses, and judging by their dedicated, I believe that when it comes to these Krizevci students, if they decide to take on an entrepreneurial venture one day, they will certainly succeed,'' she concluded.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

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