Friday, 29 October 2021

Fuchs: Schools Won't Function Normally Until Sufficient Number of People Vaccinated

ZAGREB, 29 Oct 2021 - Science and Education Minister Radovan Fuchs warned on Friday that life would not return to normal and schools would not be able to function normally until a sufficient number of citizens got vaccinated against COVID-19, noting that his ministry was carefully following the situation in schools.

"There will always be someone in self-isolation unless a sufficient number of citizens get vaccinated," Fuchs said during a visit to Župa Dubrovačka.

Asked about the situation after the school break next week, Fuchs said that he would be able to answer the question only if he knew how the epidemiological situation would unfold but that nonetheless it seemed that "something has changed in citizens' attitude" as more were willing to get vaccinated.

He dismissed the remark that the quality of education could be compromised, stressing that the experience of last year showed that the distribution of online classes was even and that his ministry was following decisions made by local COVID-19 response teams and had a very good data base on the number of students and teachers currently ill or in self-isolation.

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Friday, 1 October 2021

MP Calls for Ensuring Psychological Help for All School-Goers

ZAGREB, 1 Oct 2021 - GLAS party leader and MP Anka Mrak-Taritaš has submitted a conclusion to the parliament calling on it to oblige the government to make sure all school-goers have access to psychological help due to the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic and earthquakes as of the next school year.

Mrak-Taritaš told a press conference on Friday that the Zagreb Institute for Social Research recently published a survey covering 27,000 students, 417 experts and 4,796 teachers.

The survey showed that the coronavirus pandemic has negatively or extremely negatively impacted the lives of most students, affecting their motivation and mental health.

"It is particularly concerning to learn that depression and anxiety have increased significantly among students, as have phobias and fear... Also, a large number of Croatian students live in areas that were affected by the earthquakes and they certainly feel the consequences of those traumatic events," she warned.

Only 43% of schools have a psychologist employed

Mrak-Taritaš warned that the State Pedagogical Standard is not being respected in the school system and that a survey showed that as many as 233 elementary schools employ fewer professionals than stipulated by regulations, and only 43% of schools have a psychologist employed.

She noted that 880 elementary schools have a total of 340 psychologists employed which means that about 130,000 primary school pupils do not have access to psychological help. That means that one psychologist is responsible for an average of 925 students, said Mrak-Taritaš.

According to the electronic records of the Ministry of Science and Education, currently 47% of elementary schools and 55% of secondary schools have an employed psychologist, said Mrak-Taritaš.

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Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Minister Satisfied With Share of Vaccinated Teaching Staff

ZAGREB, 1 Sept, 2021 - Education and Science Minister Radovan Fuchs said on Wednesday that he was satisfied with the share of teachers vaccinated against coronavirus, and said that their immunisation would continue.

Currently, 57.5% of the teaching staff in primary and secondary schools have been given at least one shot against COVID-19 and in tertiary education this percentage is higher, 64.5%,  the minister said.

He underscored that there was no alternative to vaccination and promised to continue insisting on having as many teachers as possible inoculated.

It is a fact that the unvaccinated get sick on a large scale and that symptoms exhibited by  vaccinated people are considerably milder, he added.

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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, 7 July 2021

MP Jeckov: There Are Definitely No Segregated Schools in Croatia

ZAGREB, 7 July, 2021 - MP Dragana Jeckov of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) said on Wednesday that there are "definitely" no segregated schools or exclusively Serb schools in Croatia, let alone a segregated state education system.

Jeckov made the statement in parliament following statements in the media by "quasi-reformists of minority education," primarily the one conducted in the Serbian language and Cyrillic script.

"Certain myths need to be debunked," she said, including the one that Serbs in Croatia have separate schools and that they are being taught from textbooks from Serbia, based on the so-called Serbian programme.

"In Croatia, there are definitely no segregated schools, there are no exclusively Serb schools, let alone schools that are segregated from the state education system," said Jeckov.

The truth is that students go to school within the same building, that they usually go in the same shift, that they have extra-curricula activities together. The only difference is that members of the minority community are taught in their mother tongue and only if their parents decide so.

"Model A is used by the Italian and Hungarian and Czech minorities and they enjoy their minority rights to a greater extent than Serbs because their schools are registered as minority schools, unlike those for Serbs," she said.

She said that the Serb minority is not asking for more than others but it hasn't achieved the level of rights that others have, and that there is no alternative to education in the mother tongue and script.

MP Stipo MIinarić, of the Homeland Movement (DP) retorted that she was not telling the truth.

"Schools are segregated. Children are segregated from kindergarten age to secondary school. That is not good for Vukovar, the Serb community, the Croatian people, for anyone. Why are children being segregated?" he asked.

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

 

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.

ivan_penava_n1_screen.jpg

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.
Index.hr 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.

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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.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Croatian Female Team Wins 3 Medals at EGOI: Amazing Results at First Female-Only European Informatics Olympics

June 22, 2021 - The celebratory atmosphere for the Croatian informatics scene, as the Croatian female team wins 3 medals at EGOI, the first edition of the European Female Olympiad in Informatics.

With Croatia meeting the first edition of the European Girls Olympiad in Informatics (EGOI) with a Female team ready to participate, a fantastic result was achieved as the four-member team won the contest with three medals.

As Srednja.hr reported, Ema Borevković, Lina Krištić and Lara Semeš (from Zagreb's XV Gymnasium), and Martina Licul (Pulau Gymnasium) represented Croatia and the aftermath of the contest that gathered 157 contestants saw Ema winning a gold medal, while Lara and Martina grabbed silver medals for their results.

„I think the girls did a great job, particularly when you take into consideration that Lara and Lina are first graders. For myself, I think there was space to collect more points, so I'm not entirely happy“, a new champion Ema told Srednja.hr. She added that she currently writes matura and hopes to study mathematics at the Faculty of Science at the University of Zagreb.

The contest was held online due to pandemic measures. The organization of the event for Croatian was arranged by the Croatian Computer Science Association (CCSA), and Zagreb's XV Gymnasium was the host, a place where pupils took the tests. Ivan Paljak, Paula Vidas, and Dominik Fistrić were professional guides (coaches) to the team, while Matej Ferenčević, Nikola Dmitrović, and Alenka Dogan Capan, lead by Krešimir Malnar, were in charge of the organization of the performance. 

''The European Girls Olympiad in Informatics (EGOI) is a new international competition for young women interested in computer science, and it lasts for one week. The Olympiad comprises two contest days where the participants solve challenging algorithmic problems. The program is then rounded off with excursions. The students will have time to socialize with the other girls interested in the topic and to explore their host country. Each participating country may send a delegation consisting of four female participants under the age of 20, accompanied by two coaches,'' said the official website of the EGOI event. 

This amazing result isn't the first time Croatian pupils triumphed in the field of informatics. Croatian pupils, such as Dorian Lendvaj and Patrik Pavić, who won gold medals at the International Romanian Master of Informatics, previously showed informatics is a much-loved subject in Croatia.

For more on tech, you can learn more about digital nomads in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about education 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!

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Croatian Mathematical Society (HMD) Has a New President, Dr. Vesna Županović

May 20, 2021 - Earlier in May, the Croatian Mathematical Society (HMD) elected a new president, Dr. Vesna Županović.

As Vedran Pavlić wrote for TCN back in 2016, Croatian students were then better in math than in 2011. Fantastic results were also accomplished in 2018 when Croatian students scored medals at the mathematical olympiad. Good results didn't go amiss in 2020, and initiatives for promoting science (such as the one of the Local History Museum in the central town of Ogulin that introduced kindergarten kids with quantum physics), appear all over the country.

Scientists do have their own professional associations, representing them and with more engaging, less engaging, with bigger, or smaller success, work on the promotion of their respective fields. Mathematicians are no exception, and it's worth noting that the Croatian Mathematical Society (HMD) recently has a new president, Dr. Vesna Županović. Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) at the University of Zagreb reported on its website, an online assembly of HMD voted that Županović be the new president on May 14, replacing dr. Hrvoje Kraljević was the president for the past 14 years.

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Vesna Županović, screenshot / Treći element

Apart from her new function, Županović is the professor at FER's department for applied mathematics.

Being the faculty that expects excellent mathematical knowledge, FER is quite happy with this decision of HMD, and they also explained the importance of the aforementioned society.

„HMD goal is to enhance and promote mathematical sciences, math education on all levels, math applying in other fields, as well as enhancing the social status of mathematicians in general“, said FER on their website while congratulating. Županović on being elected.


They added that HMD has five departments: education, scientific, engineering, professional, and student department, along with a youth section that gathers pupils on lower levels of the education system. Publishing scientific and professional magazines and books on math is in the domain of the organization too.


Before being president, Dr. Županović was the Head of the Engineering department on HMD. Born in Split in 1965, she graduated from Mathematical Gymnasium in Split and went on to Zagreb to study math at the Faculty of Science (PMF), University of Zagreb. Her competence in math includes Nonlinear equations, Bifurcation, Fractals, Limit-cycles, Nonlinear dynamical systems, and Spirals.

Croatian Mathematical Society stated on its website that they are organizing conferences, math competitions, participation in math Olympics and other international contests, summer schools, and more.

In 1994, HMD also started a Mathematical Foundation For Science with a goal to award young scientists for their contribution. The receiver of the award can't be more than 35 years old, and concluding with 2015; five awards have been given in total since the first award in 1996.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

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

Monday, 18 January 2021

Ministry: Seventeen Schools in Quake-Hit Area Postpone Start of 2nd Term

ZAGREB, 18 January, 2021 - At the start of the second school term in Croatian schools, slightly fewer than 180,000 pupils are attending face-to-face classes according to model A, while 17 schools in Sisak-Moslavina County have been given approval to postpone the start of classes.

According to the data from the Science and Education Ministry, a total of 150,636 pupils in lower grades of primary school and about 29,000 students in the fourth grade of secondary school are attending classes in schools.

Students in higher grades of primary school and in the first, second and third grade of secondary school have online classes.

The start of the second term has been postponed for sixteen primary schools in Sisak-Moslavina County and the Glina Secondary School.

There are 53 schools in Sisak-Moslavina County -- 37 primary schools, 13 secondary schools and three music schools, there are 14,704 pupils and 2,754 school workers. There are also 21 kindergartens attended by 3,489 children.

Following the devastating earthquake that struck the county on December 29, nine of those buildings are unusable, 12 are temporarily unusable, 12 are usable with certain parts of buildings still posing a risk, and 23 are usable without limitations.

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