Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Minister Says Science, Higher Education Act One of Key Laws

ZAGREB, 5 April 2022 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Tuesday that over the past two years his ministry had worked on amending legal regulations, with amendments to the Higher Education and Science Act, to be put to public consultation soon, being among the most important.

Addressing a conference on education, taking place in Zagreb, Fuchs said that the ministry had launched a reform of the entire system - from pre-school education to higher education.

This includes changes designed to make pre-school education mandatory, introduce full-day classes in primary schools, and increase the number of children attending grammar schools.

In Croatia, he said, 30% of students enroll in grammar schools while the European average is 45%. A reform of vocational education is also underway and entirely new curricula are being defined for a set of vocational programmes, he said.

Higher education and science law one of key laws

Speaking of the amendments to the Higher Education and Science Act, the minister said that they had been fully supported by the college of rectors and presented to all universities except Zagreb University, having received very constructive suggestions and proposals of which some would be incorporated in the amendments.

Fuchs said that Croatia's research and innovation results were significantly below the EU average, adding that Croatia was second to last in the EU in terms of the number of patents per capita, with only 4.8 registrations per million population, while the European average was 106.8.

Croatia is the third poorest-ranking EU member in terms of innovation success in 2020, he said, adding that this indicated that comprehensive measures should be undertaken to increase the capacity for innovation and cooperation between the research community and the industry sector.

Recalling that Croatia has an unfavourable ratio of financing and the average number of citations per paper, Fuchs said that this showed that investments in research were inefficient.

Number of students on decline, number of employees in higher education rising 

Fuchs said that in the past five years the number of students in Croatia had dropped by 16,000 or 8%, while the number of employees in institutions of higher education had increased by 6%.

The minister recalled that the share of state funding for the system of science and higher education was based on those institutions' results, saying that Croatia had committed to that under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, and that if it did not meet that criterion, it would be left without HRK 7.5 billion.

He also noted that one of the changes envisaged by the amendments to the Science and Higher Education Act was the introduction of a single, six-year term for university rectors.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Science and Education Minister Says Cancellation of Mask Mandate in Schools to be Considered

ZAGREB, 13 Feb 2022 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Saturday that the cancellation of the mask mandate in schools would be considered in the coming month if the self-testing of school children and the related cancellation of self-isolation proved effective.

According to the latest recommendations by the public health institute (HZJZ) for children and parents, students who self-test no longer need to self-isolate in case of contact with a person positive for COVID-19.

"If this proves effective and good, we will also consider that option in the coming month and discuss it with the HZJZ," Fuchs said in an interview with Nova TV when asked about an end to the face mask mandate in schools.

The minister also believes that the self-testing of students is not a belated measure, even though the number of new infections has been on the decline.

"We are not late (with self-testing). It has nothing to do with whether figures are falling or not. Right now we have a huge number of students in self-isolation and that could continue as long as there is a single positive case in a class. This measure was introduced exactly because of that," the minister said, confirming that the number of new infections was falling and that the trend was evident among students.

"... we have opted for this measure so that classes could be held face-to-face until the end of the school year," the minister said.

Asked if he had concerns about a response by antivaxxers to self-testing and possible protests outside schools, Fuchs said that he hoped there would not be any, that principals had been given instructions, that there could be no unannounced protests or demonstrations outside schools and that if they were held, police would be called in.

As for parents who do not want to test their children, the minister repeated that they would fill in a form withholding consent for that procedure and submit it to their child's teacher and the child would not have to undergo testing at home. However, if the child gets into contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19, they will have to self-isolate, he said.

Asked if he knew the number of children who would not self-test at home, Fuchs said that according to available information, the number was one or two students per class.

Asked if all children, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, should get tested if they get into contact with a positive person, the minister answered in the positive.

The minister also noted that the process of self-testing would not be controlled and that it was based on trust.

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.

Sunday, 6 February 2022

How Much Will Covid Tests for Croatian Schoolchildren Cost?

February the 6th, 2022 - Croatian schoolchildren will not need to begin having tests at home before arriving at their school premises for another week. It seems that the pricing information has also come in, which has been eagerly awaited by parents.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Directorate for Commodity Stocks has decided to purchase a massive three million rapid antigen tests for the at home testing of Croatian schoolchildren at a price of 6.95 kuna + VAT, as reported by Media servis.

On top of the pricing for the tests intended for Croatian schoolchildren, all of the necessary delivery dynamics have also been agreed and the first tranche of one million rapid antigen tests will be delivered by the 9th of this month at the very latest, and the rest within a period no longer than fourteen days.

Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs said on Thursday that the at home testing of Croatian schoolchildren will begin when the Directorate of Commodity Stocks actually physically delivers the tests to the country's schools, and will be conducted in three phases, after which he hopes the need for them at all will disappear, writes tportal.

On Mondays, parents of Croatian schoolchildren will test their children for the presence of the novel coronavirus, and if a positive case occurs in the classroom, the test will be repeated and students who are negative can continue to go to school.

''We're going to be basing this on trust and assume that parents won't try to cheat the system to suit their liking, because the meaning of this measure is to keep as many children in their classrooms as possible,'' said Fuchs, adding that entire classes "dropped out" of their classrooms just because several students had tested positive.

Testing will be conducted for one month, and if everything goes as we imagined, we will move on to testing only in classes where a positive student appears.

The third step is the total abolition of such testing, Fuchs said, and expressed hope that the planned timetable could be realised, and that in the end it will be possible to abolish the wearing of masks as well.

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

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, 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.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

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.

Source: Telegram.hr

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

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.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Fuchs Says There Are Three Options for Testing Teachers

November 9, 2021 - Minister of Science and Education, Radovan Fuchs said that the Ministry of Science and Education is currently agreeing on a mechanism and method of testing for COVID in the education system, three options are being considered for testing teachers, and the exact method of testing will be known by Friday.

"A testing variant will be introduced for all who need to be tested. So, those who have covid-certificates will show certificates and will not need to be tested," the minister said.

The mechanism and method of testing are currently being agreed upon, and there are three options on the table, said Fuchs, testing teachers in authorized institutions, such as laboratories, testing in schools, and the possibility of self-testing, reports Index.hr.

"We will know by Friday, after taking into account all the pros and cons in terms of the possible and most effective. We will define and write this in the decision, as well as the decision to act and test in health facilities," Fuchs told reporters on the eve of the sessions of the National Council for Monitoring the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy.

It's about 120,000 people

He noted that this is a total of 120,000 people, when kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and the higher education system are taken into account, and in the primary and secondary education system itself there are slightly less than 60,000 employees.

"If 45 percent of them are unvaccinated, and I don't know exactly how many got over it, then we're talking about testing about 30,000 people. That's not so little'', he noted. 

It must be taken into account, he added, that testing teachers should be done every two days, but also that it should be done before the teacher enters the classroom and starts teaching.

"It's not quite simple, but we intend to write it all down in the instructions so that there aren't too many problems," Fuchs pointed out.

He also said that testing of children is not being considered at the moment, but that it will be considered if necessary.

“Teachers are certainly responsible people,” he pointed out. "I don't think they'll just go by the 'I really care about my students and my kids' system. I believe most of them will, if necessary, conduct rapid antigen tests," he added.

Boras: The University will respect the decisions of the Headquarters

Rector of the University of Zagreb Damir Boras pointed out that the University cooperates well with the Civil Protection Headquarters and that it will "always strictly adhere to things concerning COVID", noting that the University can make an autonomous decision on the introduction of covid certificates.

The university has its own headquarters which is currently sitting and considering the possibility of introducing covid-certificates. "In any case, we must protect ourselves and we will respect the decisions of the Headquarters. So, there will either be covid-certificates, or vaccination certificates or prescribed testing," the rector said.

"My personal opinion is that everyone should be vaccinated. Of course, I accept that there is a right of people not to be vaccinated, but some categories of employees, professionals, no longer have that right. I would say, for example, that medical professionals made their decision when they started practicing medicine and since then they have to respect the profession, "Boras told reporters.

Asked whether the University will give a stronger recommendation than before, Boras replied that the University has already given a strong recommendation, and it is to respect the decisions of the State Staff, which, he reiterated, communicates excellently and daily with members of the University Staff. The university was founded before the state ".

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

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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.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Teachers Appeal for Protection Against Opponents of COVID Restrictions in Schools

ZAGREB, 12 Sept, 2021 - Two Croatian Facebook teacher groups have asked Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs to protect school staff from opponents to coronavirus restrictions in schools and to punish the anti-maskers who invaded the primary school in the northwestern spa town of Krapinske Toplice.

"We demand a strong reaction and all the necessary steps so that things like this would not happen again," the Facebook teacher groups Školska Zbornica (Staffroom) and 45 Minutes said in an open letter to the minister on Sunday.

They said that schools must be safe places for all students and staff, and that Minister Fuchs is responsible for ensuring safety for teachers in schools, especially during the implementation of the required epidemiological measures.

The two groups bring together abut 20,000 teachers and other educational staff. 

About 20 people held a protest outside Krapinske Toplice Primary School on Friday because an eight-year-old pupil, who refuses to wear a face mask, had been banned from entering the school. The protest was organised by the boy's father, who says a mask makes it difficult for his son to breathe and that the school does not allow him to use common areas without it. In that way, he said, his son is being denied the right to an education.

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