Monday, 25 July 2022

Nearly 5,000 More Children Enrolled in Preschool this Year

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 -  As many as 4,988 more children were enrolled in pre-school education institutions in Croatia at the start of the school year 2021/2022 than in the previous school year, which is the highest increase in the last five years, the national statistical office said on Monday.

This school year the total number of children included in preschool education programmes reached 142,440, of whom 68,933 were girls (48.4%). The largest number of children enrolled in preschool education programmes was in the City of Zagreb (37,620), followed by Split-Dalmatia County (15,699) and Zagreb County (11,508).

Most children (81.2%) attended nurseries run by local government authorities, and 78.8% spent at least eight hours a day there.

Preschool education programmes included 41.11% of children aged 5-7, 37.2% aged 3-5, and 21.69% aged up to three years old.

Teachers accounted for 61.9% of preschool employees, and 95% of all employees were women.

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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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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.

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.

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Sunday, 22 August 2021

Croatian Parents Who Don't Enroll Kids in Preschool to Receive Sanctions

August the 22nd, 2021 - The Croatian education system can sometimes be quite confusing, and new sanctions are set to be placed on Croatian parents who fail to enroll their child(ren) in preschool following recent amendments to the law governing that, which was previously much more relaxed.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, with the recently made amendments to the Law on Preschool Education, Croatian parents who choose not to enroll their child or children in preschool will have to explain the reasons for their decision to the competent social welfare institution.

One of the more important pieces of news related to this new amendment is the introduction of actual sanctions for those who fall into the above category. Although the 250-hour preschool programme has been mandatory for children so far, there were no actual consequences for Croatian parents who didn't enroll their child for whatever reason, so this so-called ''obligation'' was taken quite lightly and was more about theory than practice, Novi list writes.

The Rijeka Kindergarten says that they have no information about cases of the non-inclusion of children in preschool, but the director Davorka Gustin isn't ruling out the possibility that there were cases of Croatian parents simply choosing not to put their children into preschool.

''We also had parent inquiries in that regard. Of course, we have always pointed out the legal obligation and benefits that are provided for the child by including him in the preschool programme,'' said Gustin.

For more on children, the school system and education in the Republic of Croatia, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.