Thursday, 26 May 2022

Senior Year Students Perform Nazi Salute, Ministry Condemns Incident

ZAGREB, 26 May 2022 - The Science and Education Ministry on Thursday condemned in the strongest terms a case in Slavonski Brod where senior-year students of a local secondary school took a photo of themselves with their right hand raised in the air.

The students posed for a photo with their teacher on the last day of school, wearing camouflage trousers, black berets, and black T-shirts with the message "For muck-up day ready", an allusion to the salute "For the homeland ready", used by Croatia's World War II Nazi-allied Ustasha regime.

The ministry said that it had requested more information on the case from the school and that it would act accordingly, expressing confidence that other competent institutions - the school management, prosecutorial authorities, and police - would do the same.

Incitement to violence and hate is punishable under the laws on public order, public assembly, prevention of violence at sporting events, prevention of discrimination, and the Penal Code, the ministry said.

The senior-year students of the Slavonski Brod Industrial and Craft School posed for a photo with their teacher, who later posted the photo on her Facebook account, the local SB plus news portal reported. The web portal also published also a photo of the school leavers walking in a procession through the city center.

For more, check out our politics section.

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.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Minister Says Self-testing of Students to Be Conducted in Three Stages

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Thursday that the self-testing of students would start once the Buffer Stock Directorate delivered tests to schools, and that testing would be conducted in three stages, after which they would hopefully no longer be necessary. 

Parents will test their children for coronavirus voluntarily on Mondays, and if a positive case is identified in a class, testing will be done again and students who test negative will continue attending face-to-face classes.

We assume parents will not cheat because the purpose of this measure is to make it possible for as many children as possible to continue attending physical classes, Fuchs said, recalling that entire classes had to go online just because a few students were positive.

The testing will be conducted for a month, and if everything is as we plan it to be, we will switch to testing only in those classes where a positive case is identified, the minister said.

The third stage is the cancellation of self-testing, he said, expressing hope that eventually it would be possible to abolish the mandatory wearing of face masks in schools.

The Buffer Stock Directorate will today open bids for the procurement of tests and the beginning of self-testing will depend on when schools are supplied with the tests, the minister said, adding that he would talk to school principals via video link today and that the Croatian Public Health Institute had prepared instructions for parents.

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.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

20 Contracts Worth €6m Awarded for Education of Preschool Staff

ZAGREB, 3 Feb 2022 - Twenty contracts on the education of 368 various professionals in preschool education were awarded on Thursday by Labour Minister Josip Aladrović and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs.

The project, worth 45 million kuna (€6 million), is funded from the European Union's funds and is aimed at the education of various professionals in the educational system, who will care for 1,537 children.

Minister Aladrović said that this was only a fragment of all investments in the educational system.

He added that the project also connected three priorities of the EU Social Fund. For instance, it will produce a positive impact on employment, then it will enable women to get jobs and also enable children of preschool age in educational programmes.

Minister Fuchs said that the target is to have at least 90% of all preschool children in the whole of Croatia included in preschool educational programmes by 2026.

Fuchs said that approximately 40 municipalities were still without kindergartens, and investments worth 1.6 billion kuna (€213 million) would change the situation for the better.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 25 June 2021

Ending Segregated Education in Vukovar? Mayor Ivan Penava Announced an Idea

June 25, 2021 - Is there any possibility of ending segregated education in Vukovar? Mayor Ivan Penava announced Serbian and Croatian education could merge in school and kindergarten levels, but more details are yet to be revealed.

The start of the week saw interesting news that surprised many. As reported by N1, Ivan Penava, the mayor of Vukovar, announced Croatian and Serbian classes and kindergartens could merge together.

Vukovar, often referred to in Croatia as the „Hero City“ for the heavy blow it suffered in the 90s war Croatians refer to as Homeland War, still has a lot of ruins as memories of that ugly past. In the light of national tensions among Serbs and Croats, the segregation of kindergartens and different shifts in schools for Serbian and Croatian classes seem to be a solution to keep the peace.


screenshot/ N1

Good idea but more talks needed?

„In Vukovar, parents do not choose the model of education that is imposed by politics, it is nowhere written in public“, said mayor Penava, as reported by N1.

Penava, a former member of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), despite earning a new term in the recent local elections as an independent candidate, enjoyed support from Miroslav Škoro, runner-up candidate for Zagreb mayor elections, and the leader of the Homeland Movement (DP) supports Penava's idea.

„I lived in America for a number of years, in Hungary, I traveled the world... what is the difference between Serbian and Croatian mathematics? Is Argentina in Serbian in the northern hemisphere, and southern in Croatian? I don't get it“, said Škoro adding that segregation was done in malice with a tendency to divide children from the start.

„In Vukovar, the symbol of defense had priorities. Reconstruction of the water tower, and certain moves Penava did well in his last term (he wouldn't win elections if he hasn't), thinks that city needs to move on. I support him 100%“, concluded Škoro.

On the other hand, criticism is erected on national-level politics.

„I don't think that local officials are the ones who need to determine a way in which minority education will be conducted. Political trade is clear here, and I'm glad there is no longer just Serbian-Croatian trading coalition, but also another one“, said Dragana Jecov, a Croatian parliament member from the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) referring to the accusations of the right-wing that current coalition of HDZ and SDSS and is vile political trade.

Interior Minister Davo Božinović also said that while we need to work on erasing national, social, and political tensions, but this is a question that needs to be discussed more seriously.

Additionally, as N1 reported, the Ministry of Education pointed out that different models of education for Vukovar schools exist, and parents can choose which they find most suitable.

Accepting national differences or nationalistic uniformity?

Some improvements have indeed been seen in the city infrastructure, but Vukovar still remains a challenging place to live. Partly due to the tough economic situation, but also because of discrepancies among Serbian and Croatian residents. Earlier in June, there was even a violent incident when a 30-year-old Serbian member of the Grobari football fan group physically attacked a Croatian 13-year-old boy in front of a bakery for having a medicine mask with Croatian symbols.

„Sadly, this kind of thing happened too long in Vukovar, where people attack each other because of national disputes. Media aren't even introduced to some of these events. It is spread a lot, as evident by the constant police patrols around Vukovar high-schools where there are always police cars around“, said Vukovar police to Večernji List daily newspaper.

Such incidents, a misfortunate loose ends of the war, also come from the Croatian side. Earlier in May, a group of young men chanted anti-Serb slogans in Borovo Selo (close to Vukovar), a scene of heinous war crimes in the '90s), sparking condemnation from both president Milanović and the Croatian Government.

In that light, integrated schools might finally bring positive changes in regards to tolerance and peaceful life for Vukovar citizens. But again, not everyone sees the glass as half full. columnist Gordan Duhaček agreed in his column that Serbs and Croats don't need to go to separate shifts but warns how Penava isn't the guy that should unite them.

„Penava doesn't want to integrate Vukovar schools and end the troubling segregation in a way to ensure a better future for the whole city, but instead to impose his nationalistic, often anti-Serbian narrative as the official one. Penava wants that Vukovar Serbs bow down to his view of the Croatian state“, wrote Duhaček.

Duhaček also reminded the readership of the attempt and fail of the Danube International school that supposed to integrate pupils of both nations, an idea that spawned 16 years ago. But, the project failed, and Duhaček sees both Penava and SDSS leader Milorad Pupovac not feeling too sad about it.


Iconic Vukovar water tower, pixabay

Questions on details

At the end of the week, the situation seems more confusing than clear. Is class integration a good idea? Could it save money for the city financially? What are some actual details of merging Croats and Serbians into one class? Obviously, Škoro is right that 2+2=4 in any math class around the world. But, troubling questions appear in subjects such as language and history. Croats and Serbs sadly have their own, different interpretations of historical facts, particularly when it comes to the last war, and while the speakers of two languages perfectly understand each other, some words do differ, and there is a different accent and spelling in the two formal languages. So, how can these issues be resolved? Would those two subjects remain in different shifts while universal subjects such as biology, math, or physics will listen in one merged classroom? Or will there be a different curriculum that would present both Serbian and Croatian history, Serbian and Croatian literature in that way, making Vukovar pupils more knowledgable in those areas than other pupils in the country?

Or some curriculum consensus on history could be reached, one that would satisfy both the Croatian and Serbian sides and thus truly open a doorway to the better understandings of the two nations in the future in perhaps the most nationally torn city in Croatia?

Obviously, Vukovar city authorities have some tensions with SDSS, but the city also has an expert associate for the development of civil society and national minorities, Siniša Mitrović in one of the City's departments. Did Mitrović manage to gain input from the Serbian minority in Vukovar about this merge? And how fast could the whole thing be realized? This autumn or maybe a bit later?
These are important and interesting questions that can only be answered either by mayor Penava himself or perhaps Josip Paloš, the director of the Vukovar City Education Department.

„Mayor Penava is in a lot of meetings and on fields, and his schedule is full. We will sadly not be able to answer you by your Friday deadline, but we will contact you at the earliest convenience“, said the lady at the Vukovar City PR service when I called them (and E-mailed) with a wish to arrange and conduct a brief phone interview.

While this article may present the current issues surrounding segregated education in Vukovar, this TCN reporter hopes mayor Penava will share more details about his plan on ending segregation in Vukovar schools and kindergarten with joint classes. If done right, this move can indeed be the way to a better, more peaceful future for Vukovar citizens.

Learn more about Vukovar on our TC page.

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

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians - Scientific Conference by Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute

May 12, 2021 - Earlier in May, Boka Kotorska, in the town of Tivat in Montenegro, was the host of the scientific conference "Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians" which will introduce changes in Croatian education.

Croatia has a big diaspora, no secrets there, but its worldwide spread makes you miss the region.

In Boka Kotorska, in Montenegro, Croatia's first neighbor on the southern border after Dubrovnik, not only is there a huge population of Croatians, but they also have a significant cultural impact on the area. So significant it even calls for social science to step in.

As Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute reported on its website, May 6 to 9 saw the conference “Identity of Boka Kotorska Croatians“. The three-day conference gathered crucial scientific institutes in Croatia to the town of Tivat in the Bay of Croatian Saints. Headed with Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute, Croatian Catholic University, Croatian Studies Faculty, Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics as well as Institute for Historical Sciences in Zadar attended the conference while Croatian ministries of European, and Foreign Affairs, Science and Education, Culture, and Media, as well as Croatian Central State Office for Croatians Outside of the Republic of Croatia, founded the event.

„The scientific conference went well as well as signing conclusions with recommendations that that knowledge on Bokelj Croatians we learned on this conference enter the Croatian national curriculum in important subjects. These conclusions are the crown of our efforts to launch this conference in public, not just in an academical way, but to massively popularize to ensure long-term benefits for Bokelj Croatians as for every educated citizen of Croatia and Montenegro“, said Dr. Željko Holjevac, head of the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute.

Conference conclusions suggest additions to the curriculum documents on key definitions of Croatian National Identity to make space for Croatians outside Croatia, including Boka Kotorska Croatians. Identity features and creativity of Bokelj Croatians in Croatian education, and the book „Boka Kotorska - the Bay of the Saints and Croatian Culture“, by Vanda Babić to be the mandatory literature for tourist guides in Montenegro.
Final meetings at the conference, as well as sailing with a „Katica“ ship through Boka Kotorska Bay, Saw the participation of Boris Bastijančić, the advisor and representative of the Montenegro president and representer of Croatian parliament and MP, Zdravka Bušić, and others.

„I'm glad to be at this scientific conference, and I want to thank everyone's effort for something like this to happen in Boka Kotorska. I would especially like to thank students that took part in this and gave their part as young people who love the truth of Boka, the place of saints. This is a message that we too need to do something to mark this time with love, hope, and faith“, said the Kotorska bishop, mons. Ivan Štironja.

Some Croatians live outside of Croatia, but maybe you would want to live in Croatia. Learn more about living in Croatia on our TC page

For more about the Croatian Diaspora, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Regularity of School Year Not Brought into Question

ZAGREB, March 26 2020 - Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak on Thursday underscored that the regularity of the school year would not be brought into question adding that several scenarios were being prepared for graduation examinations and that the ministry would issue relevant instructions early April.

The plan we prepared for online lessons is being implemented successfully however there are certain issues that need to be advanced, she said.

Several scenarios have been worked out for secondary school state graduation examinations; however, this epidemiological situation is totally unfamiliar and no one knows how long it will continue. "Depending on its duration, we will activate some of those scenarios and we will inform everyone of that on time," she noted.

Early April the ministry will release instructions for assessment and evaluation so that online assessment and evaluation is the same at the national level.

It is not necessary to give marks for the first two weeks of remote learning, she said but it is essential to embark on support and adaptation.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Online Classes Functioning Despite Cyberattack

ZAGREB, March 16, 2020 - Despite a cyberattack on the Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNet) and Srce service, Croatia on Monday was ready for the beginning of online classes amidst the coronavirus epidemic and the Science and Education Ministry has been conducting further preparations, Minister Blaženka Divjak said.

She noted that postponement of high school leaving exams was not being planned for the time being.

"School is functioning even in these difficult, extraordinary circumstances. It's virtual school but it does function," the minister told reporters during a visit to a Zagreb primary school.

Classes have started on the HRT3 channel as well as on Sports Television, which serves as a back-up for virtual classes for students of senior primary school grades and secondary school grades. Classes are already televised on Sports Television in Istria County and Sports Television is expected to start broadcasting them for the rest of the country as of Wednesday.

As for those who have problems with TV classes on the third channel of the HRT public broadcaster, Divjak said that those classes would be available on YouTube immediately after they were aired on television.

She noted that principals had been sent questionnaires as to how many children had turned up in school on Monday and that those questionnaires would be published subsequently.

Answering a reporter's question, she said that information on classes for children with developmental problems was available on the ministry's website as well as that televised classes with sign language would start by the middle of the week.

The minister expressed optimism that difficulties would be overcome after the start of virtual school was marked by a cyberattack on CARNet and Srce on Monday morning, causing problems with registration via official authentication passwords and profiles.

She expressed satisfaction that the nationwide coverage was larger than currently expected, considering that around 450,000 people were in the system.

"Since late Sunday evening we have had around 280,000 user accounts, and we could reach the figure of 400,000 users by Wednesday," she said.

The minister said that the quantity of digital teaching material was sufficient to cover a week of online classes and that work was underway on one more week of online classes as well as that the ministry was prepared to organise online classes for more than two weeks, depending on how the situation would develop.

The minister also said that for the time being there were no plans to postpone high school leaving exams and that they would be held as planned, starting from May 16.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 21 February 2020

EYCS Council Adopts Resolution on Education and Training

ZAGREB, February 21, 2020 - Croatian Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak in Brussels on Thursday chaired a meeting of the European Union's Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council, which adopted a resolution on education and training and held a public debate on brain circulation.

The resolution on education and training calls for appropriate involvement of education ministers in the European semester process when education and training related issues are being discussed. It reflects member states’ commitment to further improve the quality of education and training.

Education and training are essential for future sustainable growth, competitiveness and employment. As well as responding to the needs of the labour market, quality and inclusive education and training enable personal fulfilment, social cohesion and inclusive societies, the resolution says.

"Without a quality education there is no sustainable development, and investment in education is investment in our future," Divjak said ahead of the Council meeting.

Speaking of the debate on brain circulation, she said that "Croatia's plan was to include a debate on the agenda on how to achieve more balanced mobility in the EU, because talents are evenly distributed, but opportunities are not. Our task is to give equal opportunities to all countries and all regions."

Divjak said it was necessary to ensure synergies between different policies and use different investment opportunities to create favourable conditions to attract and keep talent.

More education news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Milanović Criticised for Selection of Education Advisor

ZAGREB, February 20, 2020 - Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak said on Thursday that she did not have "anything particularly good to say" about Jadranka Žarković, whom President Zoran Milanović chose to be his advisor on education, and that it would be better to wait for Žarković's first moves.

"If I don't have anything good to say about people, I rather wait for them to make their first moves," Divjak told reporters in Brussels, where she attended a meeting of the Council of the EU on education.

Milanovic has confirmed that Žarković, a psychologist and former head of the Education and Teacher Training Agency, will be his advisor on education, dismissing media reports that as the head of the Education and Teacher Training Agency, she used to send teachers and children to lectures organised by "In the Name of Family" association and the association of retired generals.

Žarković was appointed head of the Education and Teacher Training Agency during Milanović's term as prime minister in 2015, when Vedran Mornar was Science and Education Minister.

She was chosen among as many as 12 candidates, and the media reported at the time that the selection procedure was shrouded in secrecy.

The media also questioned her decision, made at the start of her term, to abolish an award for the most successful Croatian students participating in national and international competitions.

Žarković taught psychology for a long time at one of Zagreb's high schools, which was attended by one of Milanović's two sons.

More news about Zoran Milanović can be found in the Politics section.

Page 1 of 11