Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević Announces New Model For Appointment of School Boards

ZAGREB, 3 Aug, 2021 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević announced on Tuesday that next Monday, applications would be invited for the appointment of members of school boards, with around 400 members to be selected, plus 200 who are representatives of local government units. 

Speaking at a news conference, Tomašević said that under the new model, of the three school board members who are appointed as representatives of schools' founder, namely the City of Zagreb, one would be chosen from among representatives of local government bodies and two would be selected in an open competition.

Around 400 school board members will be selected in an open competition, around 200 will be nominated by heads of city district councils.

The boards of primary and secondary schools whose founders are local government units each have seven members, of whom three have so far been appointed exclusively by a decision by the mayor.

The Večernji List daily recently reported that the appointment of some of the school board members in an open competition would be introduced by Zagreb and Split, whose mayors, Tomašević and Ivica Puljak respectively, have said the new model is aimed at depoliticising educational institutions.

Tomašević today also noted that fees for members of school boards as well as for members of the management boards of city-owned kindergartens and cultural institutions would be cut. 

Amendment of criteria on lease of city premises

Speaking of waste management in Zagreb, Tomašević said at today's news conference that the situation in Zagreb was critical regarding the disposal of bio-waste and bulky waste.

A new public procurement procedure has been launched for the disposal of bio-waste while the public procurement procedure for the disposal of bulky waste is under way, he said.

The mayor of Zagreb also announced changes to criteria for the lease of city-owned premises, noting that by raising prices of lease, which are currently very low, the city's revenue could be increased.

"I do not see any logic in leasing commercial businesses that earn millions in revenue spaces of several hundred square metres at a price of several thousand kuna," he said.

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

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Applicants From 16 Countries Shortlisted For Croatian Language Scholarship

 ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - The Central State Office for Croats Abroad has shortlisted 168 candidates from 16 countries for scholarships to learn the Croatian language in the 2021/2022 academic year in the four biggest cities in Croatia.

A total of 340 applications were received with 255 being eligible.

Most of the applications received were from South American countries - Chile (45), Argentina (37), Bolivia (25), Peru (19) and one each from Ecuador, Italy, Lebanon, Cuba, Canada, Belgium and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The scholarship includes the tuition fee, subsidised meals and a monthly allowance of HRK 400 (€53) for accommodation in a student dormitory or a private apartment, which is paid to all students who successfully complete the semester.

Most of the candidates have said they want to study in Zagreb (125) and Split (30), and ten have applied for Rijeka and only two for Osijek.

The scholarships are available to persons of Croatian descent, their spouses, friends who nurture the Croatian identity and promote Croatia's culture. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a secondary school education and reside abroad or not have lived in Croatia for more than three years.

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

Thursday, 20 May 2021

BREAKING FREE NEWS: Incredible Freddie Mercury Tribute by Čakovec Students

May 20, 2021 – Brilliant Queen and Freddie Mercury Tribute by Čakovec students boldly challenges prejudice, oppression and expectations.

When people think of Čakovec in northern Croatia, usually they're not thinking of a shockingly, progressive place. But, perhaps that's just why high school students of Josip Slavenski Gymnasium decided on this move. Certainly, the graduation photo of the school's 4 E class boldly counters all expectations.

Instead of the usual fun, frivolity and throwing of hats, the students decided for their end-of-term picture to challenge, provoke and confound everyone. The result is absolutely fantastic, 'breaking free' of all conformity.

In the Freddie Mercury tribute photo, the Čakovec students are all dressed as the iconic Queen frontman, as seen in the video to the band's unforgettable 'I Want To Break Free' single. In 1984, when the song was originally released, it caused quite the controversy.

Queen and Freddie Mercury 'I Want to Break Free'

In Europe, the release was well-received, the video adored and the song went to the top of the charts. But, in the USA, it was a different story.

Queen had not considerably troubled the charts in America since their breakthrough 1970s single 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. But, in 1984, the band released in the U.S. the American version of their multi-platinum 'Greatest Hits' album. A hit! Then, they followed it with a new single, 'Radio Gaga'. Again, a hit! After over a decade of releasing music, Queen were finally on the brink of breaking the most lucrative music market in the world.

So, what did they do? For their next song, 'I Want To Break Free', the band decided to appear entirely 'in drag', as women, in the video. Although transvestitism is completely unrelated to homosexuality, perhaps the least intelligent members of society presumed this to be the idea of the band's singer, Freddie Mercury, who was gay. Not so. The idea for the video actually came from Queen drummer Roger Taylor.

American music television simply didn't understand the video. They refused to screen it. When they did, American audiences were either mystified or horrified. Well, this is a country that once elected Donald Trump for president. The response to this brilliant Freddie Mercury Tribute photo from the students of Čakovec might be comparable, in the least progressive sections of society. You know, the places where people still point to the sky when a plane passes. Or where the music of Queen is considered 'new'. As, perhaps, is electricity.

4 E Josip Slavenski Gymnasium, Čakovec, Freddie Mercury tribute

And yet, with this outrageous Freddie Mercury Tribute, these Čakovec students have proved themselves to be the best of the future generation. Bold, confrontational, committed and outright funny. In the Freddie Mercury tribute, they stand in front of the banner for the Festival of Alternative Čakovec. It's a deliberately inclusive event, intended to draw all sections of society. Anyone challenging their sense of fun must simply be regarded as the most miserable, moany and backward of all among us.

Just as the band Queen confounded some with their 1984 release, so too today will these Čakovec students with their Freddie Mercury Tribute. Luckily, there are many more young progressive people in Čakovec and Croatia - and Queen fans - than there are miserable, moany voices. Bravo class 4 E Josip Slavenski Gymnasium, Čakovec!

Saturday, 9 January 2021

All Full-Time Osijek and Baranja Students Get Free Train Travel

January 9, 2021 – From this year, full-time Osijek and Baranja students can get free train travel any time throughout their own county and for travel to educational centres anywhere in Croatia, in a new deal struck by the county and the national train operator

Once a sea bed, the vast flatlands of Slavonia are perfect for farming. At one time, this area was the breadbasket for much of Yugoslavia. It really wasn't so long ago that many folks left dry and dusty Dalmatia in search of employment and new lives on this fertile ground. Now, it's the other way round - Slavonian youth travel to the coast each summer in search of seasonal work. Others move to Ireland, Germany, Austria. Slavonia is losing many skilled younger people at an alarming rate. Increased mechanisation has reduced the need for labour in the area's agriculture. And, besides, most Slavonian youths are these days educated to a degree where their ambitions are greater than joining local agricultural endeavours.

In an area with limited possibilities, limited opportunities, education lies at the heart of survival in Slavonia. Local authorities know this and try to facilitate education as best they can. It is to that end that those in the Slavonian county of Osijek and Baranja have struck a deal with Croatia's national train operator to offer free train travel to all full-time Osijek and Baranja students.

Agreed upon at the end of last year, the scheme was implemented on 1 January 2021. Osijek and Baranja County has agreed to co-finance journeys for full-time Osijek and Baranja students who study not only within the county itself but across the whole of Croatia.

Slavonija_OsijekTrainstation.jpgOsijek train station © Romulić & Stojčić

Monthly tickets for travel within the county already held a discount of up to 65 percent given to full-time students by the train operator, depending on the route. The County has now agreed to pay the remainder of the monthly ticket for all full-time Osijek and Baranja students. To meet the requirements of this deal, the departing and destination stations must both be in Osijek-Baranja County. The free monthly ticket allows an unlimited number of trips on the route, meaning that Osijek and Baranja students can also use the train for free on recreational journeys within the county.

The second deal sees the County co-finance 50% of journey costs for full-time Osijek and Baranja students who study elsewhere in Croatia, with the train operator HŽ agreeing to grant a discount to cover the other 50 %.

In order to obtain a free (monthly or individual) ticket, it is necessary to first obtain a certificate from their Administrative Department for the Economy. To get the certificate, Osijek and Baranja students must submit a copy of their identity card, a certificate of full-time study and two completed application forms (these can be found on the county's website www.obz.hr). Requests can be made in person or by mail (Osijek-Baranja County, Administrative Department for Economy, Županijska 4, Osijek or on the e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Free tickets can thereafter be bought by Osijek and Baranja students at the box office, prior to travel, or on the train itself, upon producing the relevant and needed documentation.

Monday, 24 August 2020

School To Start On Sept 7, School-Related Public Health Measures Presented

ZAGREB, Aug 24, 2020 - School starts on September 7, and the main rule is to keep one's distance, not to mix pupils from different classes and to step up hygiene, while face masks will be mandatory only for pupils in higher grades if there is not enough space for them to keep their distance, the Education Ministry said on Monday.

The basic rule is that those who are showing symptoms of a communicable disease, are self-isolating or have contracted COVID-19 do not go to school, and to curb the disease it is necessary to keep one's distance, reduce contact between different classes, and step up personal hygiene and that of shared spaces, said Ivana Pavic Simetin, deputy head of the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) and coordinator of the task force in charge of elaborating and proposing school-related public health measures for the start of the 2020/2021 school and academic year.

Pupils should come into contact with a few teachers as possible during one day or period.

"It is recommended to have two or three hours of classes, two shifts, to have lessons start at different times, as well as breaks," Pavic Simetin said while presenting epidemiological guidelines for the start of the school year.

It is also suggested that schools provide replacement rooms in case there are too many pupils in a classroom for them to be at a distance of 1.5 meters in primary and 2 meters in secondary schools.

If there are no other possibilities, it is suggested that the school operates in shifts. For instance, half of the classes could attend school one week, and the second half next week.

In the event of a child exhibiting symptoms, he or she is separated from others and parents come to pick up their child, but there is no need to panic, and an epidemiologist should only be contacted if several children start showing symptoms.

If a child tests positive for COVID-19, the entire class or kindergarten group will undergo self-isolation.

Pavic-Simetin underscored that children were not superspreaders and that they rarely infect their family members or teachers.

Lower grades of primary schools to function as "bubbles"

Education and Science Minister Radovan Fuchs reiterated that classes in lower grades of primary school would follow the "bubble" model so pupils will not leave the classroom, they will have controlled access to the toilet, their teacher will be with them all the time and they will not mix with children from other classes. They will not have to wear face masks, nor will their teacher.

Pupils in higher grades of primary schools will only have to wear masks if there is not enough space for them to maintain physical distance.

Asked about optional subjects, such as religion, foreign languages, and IT, he underscored that there would be no mixing pupils from different classes, so if that was not possible, such classes would be held online.

There will be online classes if any of these two scenarios occurs: an entire class or school is undergoing self-isolation, or a class is being split up to provide more space for physical distancing, Fuchs said.

"That should not be a big problem, the least favorable version is to have children stay home," he underscored.

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Saturday, 6 June 2020

32,000 Seniors From 369 Secondary Schools Taking Matura Exams

ZAGREB, June 6, 2020 - The 11th season of exit exams for secondary school leavers in Croatia starts on Monday, 8 June, with 32,114 students from 369 schools taking those exams in the circumstances marked by the COVID-19 epidemic.

The first matriculation tests will be for the Croatian language on Monday, and the season lasts until 3 July.

A total of 7,000 teachers are engaged in supervising and controlling the implementation of the process of taking the tests.

The National Centre for the External Evaluation of Education (NCVVO), which organises state graduation exams, has reported that 110 authors have prepared the tests.

Students are supposed to pass the school-leaving exams in the Croatian language, Mathematics, and a foreign language in order to be given certificates on their graduation from high school.

There are compulsory and elective subjects at the state graduation exam and they are equal for all students and are taken at the same time.

The students taught in the language and script of the ethnic minority can take an exam in the minority language as a compulsory together with Croatian, and they can opt between mathematics and a foreign language as a third compulsory subject.

The compulsory state graduation exams can be taken at two levels: the higher level (A) and the basic level (B).

Apart from the COVID-19 epidemic that has made schools introduce stricter epidemiological measures in the classrooms where school-leaving exams are taken, the 22 March strong quake that damaged thousands of buildings in Zagreb and its environs, including some of the high schools, has additionally complicated the organisation of the process of taking the exit exams.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Meet Zoran Jagec, The Croat Building Schools in Africa

There are people among us who create and emit light to others. For seafarers, they aren't people but lighthouses, and for the poor - these people are benefactors. The merciful light of charity has reached Tanzania, Africa, from where longtime volunteer, Croatian Zoran Jagec, told Morski his story.

For a long time now, Zoran Jagec has been building schools and thus bringing a hint of hope to those who need it the most. For us, school is a very everyday (and often unwanted) thing, but for the kids there, the idea of going to school on a daily basis is a very different thing indeed. School is a place for socialising, a place to learn, a place to play, and a place to be safe. Zoran Jagec considers the very fact that a bulb is lit up in front of the school all night to be yet another victory and says: "It reminds me of our lighthouses. There somewhere in the bush, you can see the lights of the school.''

Morski brings us a good story, so that we can turn our attention away from Croatia's masochistic love of a daily dose of negativity, jitters, and politics, if just for a moment. Zoran Jagec came spoke from Tanzania after he successfully completed his project; he built another school for the children. He briefly described his praiseworthy humanitarian path.

''This is our third project. The first was in Cambodia in 2016 in the village of Tonleisar, where we gave the school a breath of new life by repairing the roofs, the doors, the windows, and we restored the walls. We brought with us a donation of toothbrushes and toothpaste, and the jerseys worn by the Croatian national team... After that, in the village of Pongro where I lived during last year's work, I got a local water pump and piping for the school. The next project was the building of a school in Masaai Village Mogero, Rujewa, Tanzania. The school is for pre-school age kids and the first two primary grades,'' stated Zoran Jagec.

Zoran Jagec then talks about what he is now engaged in.

''This project is also a construction (I call it a school) for preschool kids and the first two grades. There will be about 150 children (the exact number here is difficult to get) from three villages, Mwanza, Arusha and Maseramo.

How much does the light for the school cost?

''Every school gets a solar power system, that's always been the first electrical current in these villages! They're used to secure the school, so the lamps are bright in front of and behind the school all night, they remind me of our lighthouses. Somewhere in the bush you see the lights of the school. It's a bit poetic... like a roadmap for future generations to a better life.

They also have the ability to recharge their phones so they don't have to wonder where they'll be able to charge their batteries around the town,'' added Jagec.

''In this case, a large classroom and a teacher's office building are being built. Due to the lack of money we decided on this variant, by negotiating with the local authorities, teaching will take place in two shifts. That type of school is about 4,500 euros, maybe a little more if you're going to buy benches and chairs but that's not crucial. It is important that they get the school! The second type is a bigger school with two big classes and a teacher's office, and that costs about 7,500 euros. I must mention that a toilet for the kids and especially for the teachers is included.''

How many schools have been successfully built and what was your first urge to engage in this humanitarian gesture?

''It started since my first four-month trip to Southeast Asia; Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, in 2013/14. In Cambodia, I met my friend, Un Nhan (who has his own humanitarian organisation) who invited a couple of us tourists to tour the villages outside of the tourist areas where he showed us the reality of these people's lives. There, I also saw an English language school which had been set up by Un because they didn't have any organised classes in English language schools.

In conversation, he asked me if he would like to volunteer, and as it sounded a little bit far out, the conversation kind of stopped there. But... I started thinking about how and in what way I could help. Upon returning to Zagreb, I couldn't really stop thinking about it and as my desire grew, I came to the decision that in this way, by building or renovating schools, I'd be able to help the kids the most as that's the only way to get them an education. We know what this means for children in such societies - it's the only chance they have for a better life.'' stated Jagec.

''This is the second school that we'll build, along with the one that we refurbished. That's followed by the donations of jerseys, toothbrushes and toothpaste, school supplies, notebooks, rugs - everything is welcome!'' said Zoran Jagec.

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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Varaždin County to Finance School Meals for Secondary School Kids

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of January, 2019, throughout the course of this year, Varaždin County will continue to invest heavily in education and healthcare thanks to European Union money, in addition, the county is going to busy launching some brand new, important projects.

This year, Varaždin County, the first in Croatia to do so, begins with the implementation of a very significantt project, financing school meals for secondary school students at risk of poverty. This is one of the newer and by far most important projects foreseen in the budget for 2019.

"We first introduced free [school] transportation and textbooks, and we're also starting to finance meals for high school students who are at risk of poverty. As many as 30 percent of primary school students are at risk of poverty, and we've provided free meals for all of them.

Since everyone is continuing to study, this problem isn't just going to disappear, and it's also necessary to finance meals for the most vulnerable kids in secondary schools,'' said county prefect Radimir Čačić. In the budget for 2019, 3.45 million kuna is planned to go towards pupil nutrition. The continued implementation of another new project is still going on, which is student accommodation, for which 526,000 kuna was provided, almost twice as much as 2018.

Investments in the construction and in several cases reconstruction of as many as twenty different schools is anticipated.

"In 2019, 227 million kuna will be invested in school facilities, and health and social care facilities. The increase is best seen in the consolidated budget, which amounts to 1.2 billion kuna, representing 25 percent more than last year,'' added Varaždin County Prefect Čačić.

In other areas, an innovative incentive scheme for farmers through the use of EU funds is of particularly interest. Thanks to this, the number of farmers who secured their crops and livestock has increased from 5 back in 2017 to a very encouraging 357 in 2018, and this year, further increases in the number of beneficiaries is expected.

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Friday, 11 January 2019

Investments in Croatia: Cash for Health and Education Sectors Continue

Investments in Croatia come in various forms, and while we tend to read about either investors running for the hills when faced with Croatia's draconian love of red tape, or investments being made in the tourism sector along the coast, large sums of cash are continually being poured into both the healthcare and the education sectors, with one county standing out from the crowd.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 10th of January, 2019, as much as 10.5 million kuna has been invested in school renovations in Koprivnica-Križevci County, the co-financing of school transport, and the largest number of scholarships have been secured so far. One of the priorities of Koprivnica-Križevci County, which was defined in the county's development strategy, is constant investment in education that continued throughout 2018.

In addition to the large amount of money having been invested in school renovations, two capital projects for energy reconstruction are due to be set up. The involved schools are primary schools in Virje and Drnje, these projects are worth as much as 9 million kuna, and both schools will achieve heating savings of a massive 70 percent. Given the fact that the aforementioned county has recognised the importance of investing in energy efficiency, new contracts have been signed for the development of major energy renewal projects in Novigrad Podravski, Ferdinandovac, Đelekovec, and Veliki Poganac.

These investments in Croatia are more than praiseworthy, and in addition to improving the overall material conditions in schools, the county is continuing to co-finance student transport and support projects for students with disabilities and special needs, offering free school meals for students from less wealthy backgrounds, and more. In addition, last year the largest number of student scholarships was awarded to date, up to 35 of them, including those awarded to medical students, which is an important contribution to the project of the promotion of vocational professions.

Despite all of the above, 2018 will most likely be remembered for investments made in the health sector, and thanks to the joint cooperation of the county, the head of Koprivnica hospital and the parliamentary representatives with the Minister of Health, a long-awaited 10 million kuna magnetic resonance (MR) device arrived at Koprivnica hospital. Other capital projects include the very welcome eight-million-kuna "POZDRAV - Improvement of Primary Health Care in Koprivnica-Križevci County" initiative.

Make sure to stay up to date with investments in Croatia and much, much more by following our dedicated lifestyle and business pages.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Stem Revolution for Croatian Schools: Programming with Micro:Bits

The stem revolution for Croatian schools has begun for children in grades 1-4!

Zagreb, November 6, 2018 - Elementary schools across the whole of Croatia as can apply for participation in the new STEM Revolution – Grades 1- 4 project. Those participating will have the opportunity to teach their youngest pupils digital literacy competencies and learn programming using micro:bits.

The project was presented by Nenad Bakic, the President of the Institute for Youth Development and Innovation (IRIM). During the last year, project STEM revolution introduced programming into the wider education system, with a donation of 25,000 micro:bit microcomputers into 1000 institutions.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Education, the Croatian Employers Association, CARNet and other partners through the ProMikro project IRIM, programming in the 6th grade with over 35,000 donated micro:bits was introducted, was well as content development and education of over 2000 teachers.

''There is a strong interest in Croatian educational system for the introduction of STEM competencies, especially in relation to technology. This can be seen in advanced activities, for example, through the ever-growing interest in the Croatian Makers Robotics League, which now includes over 550 educational institutions, but equally at the widest level of digital competence development, i.e. programming and the development of digital literacy, through STEM Revolution projects and ProMikro. As a follow up to these projects, research conducted among school principals and teachers shows a great interest in expanding these activities,'' Nenad Bakic said at the presentation of the project which will be implemented in cooperation with Rotary Club Zagreb Center and Rotary District 1913 – Croatia.

There are currently approximately 2000 schools in Croatia which have pupils in grades 1 - 4, and all will be invited to voluntarily participate in the project. Expectations are that approximately half of the schools will apply, taking into account the interest of the school and the teachers, as well as the availability of other equipment such as computers, tablets, or smartphones, which are used to program micro:bits.

Programming will be introduced for a particular subject and also across the spectrum of school subjects. Micro:bit is a teaching tool for delivering existing content in a digitally creative way so there is no need to change the curriculum.

After the national STEM project, the micro:bit has established itself as a globally unique and leading computing platform, with national projects, for example in Denmark (for all 5th grade students, to introduce programming), Singapore and Canada.

As lower grade students rarely have a designated time to use computer labs, micro:bits will be placed in school libraries. In this way, teaching can take place in the library and in the classrooms. The library will allocate additional micro:bits for students to borrow for work at home, Bakic announced.

The project cost is estimated at 5 to 6 million kuna, and initial funding will be provided by IRIM and the Rotary Club Zagreb Center, each with 100,000 kuna, which will secure the purchase of the first micro:bits.

The project will be implemented for a period of 12 or 24 months, depending on the availability of funds and interest of the schools. It is possible to finance it in phases, so schools will receive micro:bits in waves, in the order that have signed up.

IRIM will also fund the development of content for lessons from various subjects, using micro-bits, just as it did for the 6th and 5th grade. Content will be permanently available and upgraded using various channels. IRIM will also educate 1000 - 3000 teachers, just like it previously trained two thousand teachers for the ProMikro project.

IRIM also provides web site production, collection of applications and communication with schools. Partner organisations joining are: the Croatian Post Office, which will donate the delivery of micro:bits throughout the country, the Bruketa & Žinić & Gray creative agency will supply its services in the project presentation, and the PR agency Communication Laboratory will give support for public relations. BBC micro:bit is an educational and creative tool whose purpose is to inspire a new generation of young people.

It can be used in a variety of ways throughout the curriculum, not just in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). It can help young people acquire knowledge and skills to develop from digital technology consumers into designers and creators of new tools that will help them improve their learning, solve problems or simply entertain them and allow them to take full advantage of the benefits of life and economy in the 21st century.

Micro:bit is characterised by extremely low prices, low barriers for beginner and advanced use, and a highly rich ecosystem. Click here and here for examples.

The founders of the Micro Foundation are: the BBC, Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung, ARM, the British Council and others.

IRIM runs the Croatian Makers program, which includes a number of projects such as: the Croatian Makers Robotics League, STEM Revolution, ProMikro, Internet of Things, STEM Revolution continues - Libraries, STEM Car. Croatian Makers, with over 100,000 children, and over 3,000 educated teachers, is the largest program of its kind in the EU.

The founders of IRIM are Nenad and Rujana Bakic. You can find more information on Croatian Makers here. Participating schools can apply here.

Want to keep up with more information on the stem revolution in Croatian schools and more information like this? Make sure to follow our Made in Croatia page!

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