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.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Croatian School Pupil Weight Measuring: From Public to Private

September 25, 2021 - Croatian school pupil weight measuring will now be done in private instead of in front of the class. This is the result of the Centre for Eating Disorders (BEA) initiative, which the Education Ministry accepted by sending out a memo to Croatian schools.

When you were a pupil in school, did you feel shame or discomfort during PE when that dreadful day on which you were due to be measured appeared on the schedule? Whether over or underweight (believe it or not, some people are too slim, which is particularly awkward for boys who aren't as built as their jock colleagues), it's a matter many would prefer to do in private.

And that is exactly what this initiative launched by the Centre for Eating Disorders (BEA) tried to express to the Croatian education system.

As Srednja.hr wrote, the initiative started earlier this week and quickly became viral, as it was shared by almost every Croatian media outlet, social network influencers, and fitness enthusiasts. From the public to the institutions, as the Education Ministry heard the voice of the public and took it into account.

With great pride and joy, we'd like to notify you that the Ministry sent out this memo and instructions to Croatian schools to secure the individual measurement of children's height and weight for all elementary and high schools,'' Srednja.hr said, quoting BEA's Instagram post.

Still, how fast things will actually change for the better in practice is yet to be seen.

''We at the BEA Centre allow people to become visible, to have their voices heard and to identify their problems. Although we've been working continuously since 2012, we still lack the adequate space to carry out all of our activities on a day-to-day basis and provide support to people suffering from eating disorders and their families,'' explained the BEA website.

The website also adds that 40,000 people in Croatia are affected by eating disorders. One of the Croatian media outlets that wrote about the initiative is Telegram.

In their first article about BEA's initiative, Telegram presented to the Croatian public arguments that individual weight measurement would be beneficial as pupils are in an age where they are just building up their self-awareness and confidence. Having ''public'' weigh-ins results in an enormous amont of stress as it encourages stigmatisation and peer pressure isn't a good way of supporting that delicate development.

However, as Telegram wrote in a follow-up article, social media also saw the other side of the coin, where some of the commentators opposed the initiative with pretty derogative terms.

''It's a a lot of stress??? And being a fat pig is some sweet secret? Nobody knows until the number on scale shows,'' reads one of the many comments written ignorantly and in poor taste, as Telegram pointed out.

Nonetheless, with the memo sent out and accepted, things will look less stressful when it comes to weight for the newest Croatian generations.

With this initiative making a change, the hope arises for other challenges and issues in Croatian schools to be resolved. For example, as TCN reported earlier in September, the start of this year saw the problem of too many pupils having straight A scores due to various pressures placed on teachers to evaluate their performance unrealistically.

Read about Croatian politics and history since 1990 on our TC guide.

For more about education in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Science Faculty (PMF) Earthquake Reconstruction: Croatian Faculties Receive Aid

August 23, 2021 - The Science Faculty (PMF) Earthquake reconstruction money was received in July by the Croatian government and Education Ministry. The aid was given to other high-education and scientific institutes that suffered from the earthquake too.

With August concluding, the academic community is waking up after a summer break. Students are preparing for exams, and professors are grading those exams as both groups boldly look towards new wins and losses in October and another season of active higher education in Croatia. However, with faculties being low-key in the summer, one might have missed an important action in early July when prime minister Andrej Plenković and education minister Radovan Fuchs came to Zagreb's National and University Library. They delivered 42 contracts of assigning non-returnable financial aids to reconstruct infrastructure of higher education and scientific institutions hit by the earthquake. The total amount is 2,140,837,980 kuna, and Zagreb's University Faculty of Science (PMF) received a total of 160.988.403 kuna for its own reconstruction after the natural disaster first hit Zagreb on March 23, 2020, and later Petrinja on December 29, which was also felt heavily in the Croatian capital.

With the University of Zagreb being founded in the middle of the 17th century, teaching and research of natural sciences and mathematics, which led to today's PMF, can be found almost two years after the university was founded, on April 21, 1876. The faculty, in its current form of working, was established on June 8, 1946. Since then, PMF has worked on its educational and research contributions, whose excellence is recognized domestically and internationally.

„The Faculty designs and conducts relevant university studies and scientific research programs which are an integral part of the higher education process in the fields of biology, physics, geophysics, geography, geology, chemistry, and mathematics," says the PMF website.

Today, PMF has seven departments (Biology, Physics, Geophysics, Geography, Geology, Chemistry, and Mathematics), organized into 28 divisions. It has around 4000 students enrolled in undergraduate, integrated undergraduate and graduate, and graduate university studies within 35 study programs and about 1000 students at seven postgraduate studies and one postgraduate specialist study.

„It is less known that the PMF also comprises the Seismological Service and its seismological stations all over Croatia, the mareographic station in Bakar, the geomagnetic observatory in Lonjsko polje, and the green jewel located in the very heart of Zagreb – the Botanical Garden. And in the background of it all are nearly 500 scientists and teachers for whom you will not only be just another name on a sheet of paper but a truly personal and (hopefully) successful story about your future and ours“, explained PMF.

The earthquakes damaged PMF, particularly the buildings of biology and geography departments. Still, it is admirable that amidst its own trouble, PMF found a way to help students of the Faculty of Metallurgy in Sisak, which also took a heavy hit from the earthquake, by donating five new laptops for educational purposes.

As TCN previously reported, citizens of Zagreb had mixed feelings regarding how the city and the government handled the situation in Zagreb. However, Croatian Parliament MP Sandra Benčić from the Možemo Green-left coalition, while commenting on the victory of his party colleague Tomislav Tomašević on Zagreb elections, stated that the citizens he helped filling out paperwork for damaged homes needed to receive European funds for the reconstruction, for which Zagreb needs to apply by June 2022 to receive the aid.

With these moves by the new administration and the aforementioned aids for the high scientific institutions, the steps to recover Zagreb, the center of science, culture, politics, economy, and more in the Republic of Croatia are underway. But, it will still take time for citizens to recover fully from 2020's tragedies.

The results of education and science curiosity pay off. Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about education in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Minister: Pupils Have Spent Over 2/3 of This School Year in Classrooms

ZAGREB, 12 April, 2021 - So far during this academic year, Croatian students have spent 78% of education in schools, and 22% has been organised as online learning, Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Sunday evening.

"At the beginning of this school year, the ministry issued guidelines for the organisation of this academic year, and education has been provided in compliance with those guidelines," he told the commercial RTL broadcaster.

Our interactive approach has proved to be very efficient and I am proud that all pupils have spent 78% of this school year's classes in schools, the minister added.

As of Monday, 12 April, 16 out of the 21 counties in Croatia are switching to digital learning or to a combined model of digital and face to face education.

The end of this school year is close and I think that we can be satisfied with the share of classroom education this year, Fuchs said.

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

Thursday, 4 March 2021

35% of Eight-Year-Olds in Croatia Overweight

ZAGREB, 4 March (Hina) - As many as 35% of eight-year-olds in Croatia are overweight, shows a survey by the CroCOSI European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, which was presented on Thursday on the occasion of World Obesity Day by Sanja Musić Milanović, who headed the survey.

Musić Milanović described obesity as one of the biggest public health problems of the 21st century and the common denominator for all leading chronic non-infectious diseases.

"If in the next 30 years we do not reduce the trend of increasing obesity, the average life expectancy will be shorter by three and a half years," she warned, presenting the results of the second round of the survey conducted in 2019.

According to the survey, 33.1% of eight-year-old girls and 37% of boys are overweight.

In the past three years there has not been a significant increase in child obesity in Croatia, as the results for the first round of the survey (2015/2016) indicated that 34.9% of eight-year-olds were overweight while three years later that percentage was 35%. 

The survey also showed that about 57.4% of adults in Croatia have a problem with weight, which is a risk factor for a series of chronic non-infectious diseases.

Musić Milanović underscored that as much as 6.6% of the state budget earmarked for health is spent on diseases caused by obesity.

In Croatia, 67.6% of men are overweight, which makes them the "absolute champions in Europe," she said.

Northerners are the slimmest people, while southerners are the fattest, notably boys in Mediterranean countries, she added.

The presentation was attended by Health Minister Vili Beroš and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs. Beroš said that an action plan was being prepared to tackle the problem of obesity while Fuchs said that an initiative had been launched recently to increase Physical Education classes in schools.

Monday, 1 February 2021

Minister Says Infrastructure to Be Ensured for Croatia to Move to All-Day School

ZAGREB, 1 February 2021, 2021 - Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Monday that it was necessary to ensure infrastructure for introducing fill-day schooling, which is Croatia's objective in the coming period.

The minister, who was visiting Varaždin County, said that the €22 billion EU Recovery Fund opened room for education and provided great opportunities for the construction of schools in Croatia.

"The concept is to move towards all-day school. That requires a certain infrastructure to be built," said Fuchs underscoring that at the moment 40% of schools in Croatia work in two shifts, due to a lack of place.

Introducing all-day school would significantly increase the number of active hours children spend in school, said Fuchs and added that compared to other countries in the EU, children in Croatia spend the least time in lessons at school.

During his working meeting with Varaždin County Prefect Radimir Čačić,  Minister Fuchs said that they defined future projects by the ministry.

The ministry's state secretary, Tomislav Paljak, who accompanied the minister during his visit to Varaždin, explained that while in the whole of Croatia, 40% of schools worked in two shifts, in Varaždin County that percentage was just four percent of schools.

"That means that 96% of schools here operate full day, which is in accordance with the state project to ensure full-day schooling for pupils," said Paljak.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Education Minister Says Focus on Organisation of Classes in Quake-Hit Area

ZAGREB, 4 January, 2021 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Monday that around 50% of education facilities in the earthquake-hit areas of Sisak-Moslavina County were unusable and that work was under way to organise classes.

"There are 58 educational institutions in the area and there are 5,658 pupils in Glina, Petrinja and Sisak. So far 42 buildings have been inspected and nine are unusable, 11 are temporarily unusable, 22 are usable, so roughly 50% of the facilities are out of service," Fuchs said.

He said his ministry's activities in the coming period would be directed towards organising classes for pupils and students, noting that some children and education workers had to leave their homes due to damage caused by the December 29 earthquake.

An analysis is underway of the needs for computer equipment and it will be replaced, he said, adding that the ministry would take over a part of the cost of accommodation in dormitories for all students with permanent residence in the quake-hit area.

He noted that the ministry has secured HRK 4.5 million from its budget to buy 20 sets of seismographs and 20 sets of accelerographs for the Faculty of Science seismological service.

Minister says team formed to planned restoration of historical buildings

Culture and Media Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek said that the historical centres of Sisak, Petrinja, Glina and Hrvatska Kostajnica as well as some 50 sacral buildings, including the Sisak cathedral, had been damaged in the earthquake.

She noted that a team had been formed to plan the reconstruction of the historical centres, notably in Petrinja, and that movable cultural heritage would be evacuated.

Obuljen Korzinek said that secular movable heritage would be stored at the Sisak Museum while the building of the Sisak Diocese would be used to store movable religious heritage.

The minister said that the systematic listing of damage would start on January 11 and last a week.

As for the local media, she said that buildings that used to house Radio Sisak and Radio Petrinja were not usable and that the two broadcasters had been given containers and had started to broadcast.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Education Minister: Some Schools Affected by Earthquake Have to Be Rebuilt

December 31, 2020 – After visiting schools in Sisak-Moslavina County on Wednesday, Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs estimated that some schools would have to be rebuilt.

Besides, as Hina reports, minister Fuchs said that some schools would be able to be restored.

"The situation in schools is bad. In Petrinja, some schools will have to be completely demolished, and some will be rebuilt. I don't know how fast schools will be rebuilt. A good part will have to be built anew," said the Minister.

More schools require complete construction

In the Sisak-Moslavina County, there are 53 schools (37 primary, 13 secondary, and three music) attended by a total of 14,705 students, and 21 kindergartens attended by 3,489 children. Due to the earthquake, five schools required complete construction, nine were significantly damaged, and 13 schools could be used with repairs.

The earthquake damaged the First Primary School in Petrinja and the High School located next to it. There have been significant collapses there, and they will, therefore, need to be rebuilt.

Although it was first assumed that five schools in the Sisak-Moslavina County would need to be rebuilt, the number is slightly higher. Namely, in addition to the two mentioned Petrinja schools, more schools also require complete construction: the Fran Lhotka Music School Sisak, the Sisak Vocational School, the Farkašić and Letovanić Regional Schools of the Mladost Primary School from Lekenik, the Ivan Goran Kovačić Primary School from Gora, and the Nebojan Regional School.

Students in Sisak won't be able to attend college

The Minister also visited the Glina High School, where the energy renovation has started from the outside, which will most likely be renovated.

In addition to that school, the schools that have significant damage are: the Sisak Gymnasium, Katarina Zrinska Mečenčani Primary School, both Viktorovac Primary and High School, Ivan Kukuljević Primary School, Sisak School of Economics, Budaševo-Topolovac-Gušće Primary School (Topolovac), Dragutin Tadijanović Primary School (Mošćenica Regional School), and Mate Lovrak Primary School in Petrinja.

Many other schools are damaged but have mostly cracked glass, smaller cracks, and broken furniture.

At the Faculty of Metallurgy in Sisak, the University of Zagreb, which is attended by 141 students, the estimated damage is eight million kunas. The estimated damage at the Faculty of Teacher Education, the University of Zagreb, which is attended by 600 students, is 1.5 million kunas. Teaching at both faculties will not be possible until the end of the summer semester.

Fuchs said funds for school reconstruction would be withdrawn from the European Solidarity Fund.

"Preparations need to start immediately so that the reconstruction can begin as soon as the funds are approved," he stressed.

'Luckily there were no children in schools'

When it comes to involving students in teaching, the Minister points out that all options will be examined.

"We will try to see all the options that are most acceptable and best, primarily for students. We will know that when everything is consolidated in a few days," the Minister said, adding that now, it must be identified where the students are.

"Luckily, in the accident, there were no children in the school. Now we will see where they will be accommodated," the Minister said.

Minister Fuchs visited the earthquake-stricken Petrinja, Sisak, and Glina with the County Head of Education Darian Vlahov, Petrinja High School Principal Milan Orlić, Dragutun Tadijanović Primary School Principal Davor Miholjević, Faculty of Teacher Education Dean Siniša Opić, the Vice-Dean Marko Badrić, and Glina High School Principal Marija Novosel.

Follow our live updates on the situation in Croatia's earthquake-hit areas here; find out how you can donate here.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Minister Says No Switching to Online Classes

ZAGREB, November 16, 2020 - Education Minister Radovan Fuchs has said that his ministry is still of the view that one should not switch to online classes except in cases when the situation in a school requires it and when physical classes are not possible.

"The ministry has been monitoring the system of primary and secondary schools and still considers that one should not switch to online classes except when the situation in an individual school requires it," the minister said, adding that online classes so far had been introduced in schools where the teaching and auxiliary staff had been reduced to such an extent that it had brought the holding of physical classes into question.

"We have been monitoring the situation closely and will act accordingly but one should not resort to any panicky decisions because that is the worst scenario," he said.

He noted that no country had closed schools without applying stricter general measures and that there were cases where very stringent restrictions were in force but where schools functioned normally.

1,366 students, 549 school staff positive for coronavirus

The minister said that the latest data showed that 1,366 students and 549 school staff were positive for coronavirus, which was 81 fewer students than on Sunday, when a slight decrease was recorded also in relation to Saturday, and that the latest data also showed that 34 fewer teachers were positive for the virus.

"If the current trend stays, it will be good. We can't speak of an abrupt decline, but we can say that the curve is relatively flat," he said.

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Education Minister: School Closures and Online Classes Are Last Resort

ZAGREB, October 29, 2020 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Thursday that closure of schools and online classes would be the government's last resort and that he was not considering that measure for now.

He cited the study conducted in 133 countries, according to which school contributed very little to the transmission of the infection.

There are 0.2% children who tested positive for coronavirus in the education system. Yesterday 27 children from kindergartens tested positive in Zagreb and over 70 kindergarten teachers, so kindergartens mostly closed down because of staff, he said.

Fuchs said that they were currently considering new guidelines, especially regarding staff wearing masks and improving transport transmission control, which could reflect better on the number of infections than switching to online classes.

We have a relatively good epidemiological situation and let us not close schools, Fuchs said.

Page 1 of 2