Friday, 29 July 2022

Zagreb Deputy Mayor Presents New Changes to Stay-at-Home Parent Scheme

ZAGREB, 29 July 2022 - Deputy Mayor of Zagreb Danijela Dolenec on Friday presented a new proposal for changes to the decision on stay-at-home parent allowances, under which the allowances would be cut and kindergarten capacity expanded to ensure kindergarten care for all children.

The new proposal for changes to the said decision will be put to public consultation on Friday, Dolenec said, adding that the public consultation process will last 30 days.

Recalling the chronology of events regarding the decision on allowances for stay-at-home parents, which was adopted by the administration led by the late mayor Milan Bandić and which in the period since 2016 has cost the city HRK 2.1 billion, as well as a recent ruling by the High Administrative Court, Dolenec said that the new changes were aimed at expanding the city's kindergarten capacity and that 21 projects for kindergarten construction and for repurposing buildings to kindergartens had been submitted. The city aims to implement most of those projects in 2023 and 2024, she said.

Dolenec noted that amending the stay-at-home parent scheme was aimed at making available as much city budget funds as possible to invest in kindergartens.

She noted that the city administration considered the employment of mothers and enrolment of children in kindergartens important and that it would not set any conditions in that regard.

A decision to that effect will be adopted by the Zagreb City Assembly in September and six months after its adoption nothing will change for the beneficiaries of the stay-at-home parent scheme, she said.

On 31 March 2023, allowances for stay-at-home parents would be lowered to the amount of the net minimum wage (currently HRK 3,750), and as of 30 June 2023, the allowance will amount to 50% of the minimum wage and stay at that level until a beneficiary's exit from the scheme, Dolenec said.

By 30 September 2023, 50% of the beneficiaries whose child has turned 7 or more will have exited the scheme, Dolenec said.

After that date, each month beneficiaries whose child turns 7 will exit the scheme and the process will continue progressively until the last beneficiary, Dolenec said, adding that by the time the City Assembly holds a session in September, compensation measures for beneficiaries of the stay-at-home parent scheme would be unveiled.

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Thursday, 21 April 2022

€163m Scheme for Construction of Kindergartens for 22,500 Kids Presented

ZAGREB, 21 April 2022 - A HRK 1.22 billion (€163 million) scheme for the construction and equipment of kindergartens, the aim of which is to create 22,500 new kindergarten places was presented by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday.

By the end of 2026, we intend to create conditions so that 90% of children aged three or more can participate in early and preschool education before going to school, which will enable a better educational outcome for children, and Croatia will catch up with the world and Europe, Plenković told a press conference.

In Croatia, the participation rate in preschool education is still among the lowest in the European Union.

In the 2004-2016 period, the number of children attending regular kindergarten or nursery programs in Croatia rose by 37.2%, while the number of kindergartens increased by 34.7%.

Since 2017, the government has invested HRK 2 billion in 498 kindergartens in Croatia, and with these investments, the total amount will reach HRK 3.43 billion, said Plenković.

The achieved level is still significantly below the "Barcelona objectives" of having 33% of children under three years of age and 90% of children between three years old and the mandatory school age covered by education programs, that is, the goal of the European Education Area to have 96% of children between three years of age and primary school to be covered by preschool programs.

(€1= HRK 7.5)

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Thursday, 31 March 2022

Govt Amendments To Improve Preschool Education Standards

ZAGREB, 31 March 2022 - Ensuring equal opportunities for all children and including them in the education system, increasing the number of children included and improving the quality of the education system is the aim of the final draft bill on preschool education.

The recommended amendments the government sent to parliament on Thursday are part of the education reform within the framework of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NPOO), with Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs saying the bill by no means revokes the National Pedagogical Standard.

In order to ensure that all children aged three to six can attend preschool education by 2030, it is necessary to secure additional capacities and infrastructure with an investment of HRK 1.6 billion from the NPOO, which should enhance the capacity of preschool institutions by 22,500 places.

The bill proposes a national network of children's kindergartens in an effort to improve planning regarding the construction and reconstruction of preschool institutions and to reduce the differences in development, thus enabling the inclusion of more children in early and preschool education.

The bill enables the possibility for elementary school teachers to be employed in kindergartens.

Having in mind regional differences, the bill envisages the possibility of funding from the state budget to complete investments for EU projects to build kindergartens in less developed areas.

It also provides for the possibility to secure funding to maintain the fiscal sustainability of kindergartens established by local government units based on criteria set by the government.

Final draft bill on the Croatian Science Foundation

In an effort to boost the research and innovation potential and implement programmes planned under the NPOO, the government sent a final draft bill on the Croatian Science Foundation to parliament.

The foundation was established with the aim of developing and promoting science and technological development by ensuring support to research of strategic interest for Croatia, however, the incumbent legislation is outdated, inflexible and does not correspond to the research demands in Croatia or Europe, Minister Fuchs explained.

"In an effort to increase the efficiency and functionality of investments in science projects and enable the implementation of programmes set by the NPOO, the bill defines only the framework to grant funds while the actual programmes will be defined by the Foundation's general acts," Fuchs added.

Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Monday, 31 August 2020

A Back to School Guide During Pandemic in Croatia

August 31, 2020 - Just before the beginning of the new school year next Monday, the Ministry of Science and Education announced "Models and recommendations for work in conditions related to COVID-19 in the pedagogical / school year 2020/2021", which are recommendations for safer educational work and teaching in kindergartens and schools. A look at how school will look during the coronavirus pandemic in Croatia.


When bringing children, the parent can enter the kindergarten, but must change their shoes or have plastic shoe covers, they must have a mask on their face and must disinfect their hands. The parent can stay with the child in the kindergarten for a maximum of 15 minutes a day, and the principal is obliged to make a schedule of the parents' stay in kindergarten groups and inform them about it in time. It is not recommended to have a large number of parents in one room at the same time, reports Več

More parents only outdoors

A large number of parents and children of one educational group can stay for more than 15 minutes only in the open space, but with the obligatory distance and wearing a mask for the parent.

Primary school - the first grade

As for the first day of first grade students in primary school, it is not recommended to hold regular school events, but it is possible to plan the joint arrival of students and one parent to school to introduce children and parents to the teacher, for each class in a separate room or outdoors. If one parent comes with a child and they enter the classroom together, a special time should be planned for that, when there are no other students in the school, and in compliance with all epidemiological measures. Parents should not stay in school for longer than 15 minutes. It needs to be worked out how textbooks will be distributed to students and how parents will take them over. Teachers can also use the first day to hold a parent meeting, ie give instructions related to the organization of work, introduce children and parents to epidemiological instructions and recommendations, and agree on the possibility of distance communication because parents are not recommended to enter schools. This meeting can also be held outdoors or it can be online, but only if all parents have the opportunity to do so.

Primary school (the rest of the grades) and high school

When it comes to the first day of school for students in other grades of primary and high schools, students should be informed before September 7 about the time of arrival at school and compliance with all instructions, as well as the classroom where classes will be held for them. And the prescribed instructions for transportation, entry, and exit will apply from day one. It is necessary to develop a protocol for sharing and receiving textbooks in advance. The duration of classes on the first day can be adjusted to the specifics of space and number of students, and it is desirable that only the class teacher is with the students and not other teachers.

The school can also plan classes on the first day, depending on the decision of each school. Teachers are obliged to acquaint all class teachers with the rules and obligations, risks, and instructions that must be followed, taking into account the age of students and their specifics, especially if they are students with disabilities. Parent meetings and employee meetings need to be planned remotely. In exceptional situations, meetings are also possible outdoors. Regarding the educational work in kindergartens and schools, the document of the Ministry proposes three models: work and teaching in the institution, mixed form (part in the institution, part at a distance), and work and teaching at a distance. These are flexible models that can be changed or supplemented at the local level in accordance with the epidemiological picture and new findings on the spread of infection and disease. The school decides on the application of an individual model in cooperation with the founder and the competent local headquarters.

The “school teaching” model implies that all students are educated in school face to face with adherence to epidemiological guidelines. These are enhanced personal hygiene, hand disinfection, and respect for the greatest possible physical distance in students from 1st to 4th grade of primary school. For students from the 5th to 8th grades of a primary school, there must be a physical distance of 1.5 m in the classroom or about 2 m between all persons (students and teachers) in classrooms of secondary schools. If the prescribed distance is not ensured in the upper grades of primary and secondary schools, students and teachers are obliged to wear masks. For students who belong to a highly vulnerable group, as well as for students who are absent from school because they are COVID positive and who are in self-isolation, classes are organized as distance learning. In addition, if during the performance of certain forms of teaching (eg elective, optional classes, additional and supplementary ...) it is not possible to avoid physical contact of students from different classes, for these groups of students classes are organized as distance learning.

School in two shifts

As a larger number of students in the school also means a higher risk of transmitting infections, for schools that have worked in one shift so far, and have a large number of students in relation to small space possibilities or cannot provide the recommended physical distance, it is proposed to work in two shifts. The model of teaching “partly in school, partly at a distance” is applied when the spatial and personnel conditions do not allow work with respecting epidemiological measures. This means that students will not be able to have classes at school at the same time, but priority groups of students who will have classes at school must be determined, and for other students, it should be ensured that they have occasional classes at school and occasionally distance learning. It is possible for students to take turns being at school for one week and at home the other. Within this model, for students from the 1st to 4th, classes are held at the school with enhanced personal hygiene, hand disinfection, and respect for the greatest possible physical distance. The students from 5th to 8th grades and high school students follow classes by dividing the classroom into two groups, which means that while one group monitors classes at school, the other group monitors it remotely. Classes take place in shifts lasting one week or in a regime of 3 + 2/2 + 3 days. Groups of students per shift should be permanent. The “distance learning” model means that all students follow distance learning at the beginning of the school year.

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Wednesday, 5 June 2019

EU Funds for Construction and Renovation of 500 Kindergartens in Croatia

As Novac/ writes on the 4th of June, 2019, more than 500 kindergartens are currently being built or renovated in Croatia thanks to the country's access to EU funds.

The move is also because of the growing awareness of negative demographic trends in recent years, and cities are also increasing their budget allocations for kindergartens as well as for the eventual implementation of measures that will work to raise the overall standards of pre-school education - from kindergarten construction, the co-financing of residence, the prolonged stay of children in kindergarten, the introduction of new activities, and the procurement of equipment needed for work.

Novac analysed the data from Croatia's Ministry of Finance on budget execution in 2017 and explored which cities had ''put aside'' the highest amount of money for pre-school education. What can be seen first is that the top 10 cities with the greatest distinction, whether viewed per capita or per share in the budget, are almost exclusively small and medium-sized cities, and the only bigger city among them is Velika Gorica near Zagreb.

When viewed from the perspective of budgets, Požega in continental Croatia led with 17.6 percent of its budget allocated for kindergartens, and the funds are mainly used to cover the costs of children staying in kindergartens. At the same time, with 600 kuna per child per month, the city co-finances a child's stay in a private kindergarten.

After Požega, according to the budget allocation for kindergartens, come Klanjec, Vodnjan, Dugo Selo, Bjelovar, and Oroslavje.

According to the date for 2017, the City of Bjelovar, with its allocated amount of 9.2 million kuna, is the fifth city in Croatia in terms of budget allocation for kindergartens and it will be very interesting to see where it will be positioned in any analysis taken in the coming years, since in 2018 alone, it invested 23.5 million kuna in pre-school education, and they set aside 30.2 million kuna in the budget for it. One of the important measures is to lower the prices of kindergartens, which has already decreased twice in one year, first from 750 kuna to 600 kuna, and then down to 500 kuna.

''Investing in pre-school education is certainly one of the priorities of the City of Bjelovar, which is evident from the city budget. By investing in children, we're investing in our future, and by raising standards in kindergartens, we're helping children to have a better childhood, as well as for their parents, to make it easier to finance everything needed,'' said Bjelovar's mayor Dario Hrebak, adding that investing in pre-school education is one of the best demographic moves, the energetic restoration of kindergartens also strengthens Croatia's economy, and today in Bjelovar, there is no construction company without work.

In Oroslavje, the sixth town in Croatia in terms of the amount of the budget allocation for kindergartens, there are two kindergartens attended by about 150 children. This year, prices for kindergartens were reduced, parents pay 640 kuna for the first child, 360 kuna for the second, and for the third one, it's free. They are cheapest in all of Hrvatsko Zagorje.

Among the top 10 of the cities and towns in Croatia which allocate the most for kindergartens are Skradin, Đurđevac, Ludbreg and Novi Marof. Looking at things in terms of per capita, the champion in allocating money to kindergartens is Vodnjan with 658 kuna per capita, and in the top 10 come Požega, Vis, Đurđevac, Velika Gorica, Umag, Poreč, Klanjec, Bjelovar and Sveta Nedelja.

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