Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Preschool Education Act Amendments Met With Criticism

ZAGREB, 27 April 2022 - Amendments to the Preschool Education Act on Wednesday provoked strong criticism by the opposition, which claims that they are detrimental to children, while the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) points out they will provide higher quality preschool education and better access to it.

Presenting the bill, State Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Education, Tomislav Paljak, said that the goal was to allow each child to attend early and preschool education from the age of six months to when they start school.

Due to the lack of space, it is not possible to allow all children to enrol in kindergarten, so priority of access criteria have been established.

In order to increase the capacities of preschool facilities, HRK 1.6 billion has been provided from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for the construction and extension of kindergartens. By the end of 2026, this will create room for an additional 22,500 children in kindergartens, enabling 90% of children from the age of 3 up to the age of starting school to participate in preschool education, said Paljak.

Currently, 58 local units do not have a single preschool facility, he added.

Paljak dismissed as false the claim that the law abolished the pedagogical standard on the number of children per group.

Associations and trade unions of preschool teachers against Preschool Education Act

Today, representatives of five professional associations and four trade unions of preschool teachers held a press conference in several Croatian cities in order to protest against the amendments to the Preschool Education Act.

The head of the association Sidro (Anchor), Katarina Turković Gulin, said at a press conference in St. Mark's Square, where the parliament and government are located, that the conditions in which preschool teachers worked and the conditions they provided to children were not satisfactory. The law has been amended six times, and none of the changes have brought what the profession has demanded, she said.

She recalled that over the past two months, representatives of kindergarten employees had spoken out against the proposed amendments, saying that they caused additional damage and deepened discrimination between children.

Since the government has ignored our demands, we will stay here all day today and wait for the outcome of the second reading of the bill, said Turković Gulin, and she announced that the protest rally would be staged as many times as necessary, not only in Zagreb, but also in Osijek, Rijeka, Pula and Čakovec.

The leader of the trade union of preschool education employees, Iskra Vostrel Prpić, said the problems were due to an inadequate financing model because the entire preschool education was financed from local budgets.

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Friday, 28 January 2022

New Medical School Building in Pula Inaugurated

ZAGREB, 28 Jan 2022 - The completion of construction on a new HRK 61.7 million ( €8.2m)Medical School building in Pula and the start of classes were inaugurated on Friday, with Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs attending.

"This school is of strategic interest for the city and the county, as well as the wider area, as evidenced by student trends on the labor market after they graduate from this school, notably in primary healthcare and health tourism," the minister said.

The new premises with modern equipment will provide students with better upbringing and education conditions as well as a higher quality of acquiring knowledge and skills in demanding jobs in healthcare, he added.

The construction of the new school building, completed in less than two years, was a joint project by Istria County and the City of Pula, with both financing it equally.

Istria County head Boris Miletić said the school was near the new building of the Pula General Hospital, which was completed in December, and that a future hospice will be located nearby.

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Friday, 7 January 2022

Mandatory Masks in Croatian Schools from 5th Grade Onwards

January 7, 2022 - Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs spoke at a press conference and reaffirmed the return to school classes in Croatia from this Monday. He also added that there will be mandatory masks in Croatian schools for those in fifth grade and up, among other considerations.

"You can see that, as the Government has insisted that school classes in Croatia be given in person, we have reduced online teaching to a minimum. Despite its necessity, virtual classes have their downsides, even if it was made with the highest standards for which we received a lot of recognition," he said. He added that this is not a happy solution for the education of children and young people, especially given the other negative consequences of online teaching, such as isolation, which affects the development of students.

“Based on this, and in an effort to provide proper education in this time and moment, we strive to keep it in person, which has proven to be good,” he said. “Decisions on an eventual transition to online teaching are made on a regional level in cooperation with the Ministry. At this moment, we do not have an announcement from any county to think about it, thus everything will start normally from Monday", he said.

He added that exceptions are only possible in some schools with unavailable staff due to the omicron variant. "At the moment we have information about a school in a small town, where they have a shortened staff due to the epidemiological situation", he said.

Speaking about the measures in schools, Fuchs said that the same measures from November remain in force: mandatory masks in Croatian schools for students from 5th grade onwards, regardless of the space and distance. "In earlier grades, the distance is two meters or one and a half meters, and therefore the use of masks has been abolished. Children from first to fourth grade are in this group.''

In the end, he said that the vaccination of teachers has significantly improved. "Our average is about 70.1 or 71 percent. Again, in scientific institutes, it is almost 90 percent of the higher education system, 84-85 percent in secondary schools and 70.3 or 70 percent in primary schools'', he concluded.


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Sunday, 26 September 2021

Croatian Schools Do Not Offer Systematic Education About Climate Change

ZAGREB, 26 Sept, 2021 - Croatian schools still do not offer systematic education about climate change even though transition to a climate neutral economy will create more than one million jobs in the EU in the period until 2030, teachers interested in the topic of climate change have said.

Croatian students acquire most of the knowledge about climate change by participating in projects.

Sanja Turčić Padavić, a teacher at a Rijeka secondary school, says that young people are aware that the new time brings new challenges that will be easier to deal with with green skills but that school curricula make no mention of such education.

Teachers who consider the topic important find a way to include it in their work with students, but there has been no incentive from the Science and Education Ministry, Turčić Padavić says.

"I convey the knowledge I have acquired through the subject I teach. If I were not involved in projects, I would probably not know what to teach about climate change or how," she says.

A study on climate change in the EU, of which she is a coordinator and which is part of the Erasmus+ programme, will be conducted over a period of three years.

It will focus on 243 endangered animal and plant species in three countries. The focus in Croatia is on fauna and based on the study's results, an innovative plan of recovery will be proposed for each of the species.

Several Croatian schools regularly take part in a national reforestation campaign, which is designed to point to the importance of trees in mitigating climate change.

There are also other forms of education, including a workshop organised by the Tatavaka association in July, which also involved members of the Civil Protection who as part of the school curriculum, have been preparing a handbook on how to reduce disaster risks.

Italy is the first country in the world to have officially introduced education about climate change and sustainable development in the school system, owing to efforts by former Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti.

Education on climate change received a lot of public attention with the climate marches of  2019, organised by students.

A 2020 survey on climate education in Europe collected 1,101 responses, with 89% coming from education workers. Almost all agreed that school is responsible for climate education, however, 70% said climate education was insufficiently present in school curricula.

Lack of competence and training was cited as the most frequent reason why teachers could not include it in curricula, the second reason being lack of resources.

A small percentage of respondents expressed doubts as to the existence of evidence about climate change being a serious problem.

The importance of education for strengthening the European framework for green competencies has been underlined at this year's EU Green Week.

Today there are initiatives such as UNESCO's education on climate change, eTwinning, Erasmus+, the European Parliament Ambassador School Programme (EPAS), and others.

The Green Deal and the fight against climate change are among priority policies of the European Parliament and special attention will be paid to these topics through activities, seminars and programmes that are organised by the EP Office in Croatia, the Office has said.

EPAS has been implemented in Croatia since 2016 and so far more than 60 secondary schools have attended it.

The European Parliament in 2019 declared a climate crisis, calling on the European Commission to harmonise future legislative and budget proposals with the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In June this year the EP approved a new regulation on climate increasing the target reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU in the period until 2030 from 40% to at least 55%.

It also adopted a position on the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 which aims to put under protection at least 30% of land and sea in the EU.

Transition to a low-carbon economy will create more than one million jobs in the period until 2030, which requires retraining and additional training for more than 120 million Europeans in the next five years.

According to OECD data, many countries have already included topics related to environmental protection in their school curricula, however, there is still no comprehensive strategy at the EU level.

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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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