Education Ministry Declines to Fund School Robotics Project, People Donate Money Instead

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Education and Science Ministry declined to support robotics project launched by Croatian entrepreneur Nenad Bakić.

Well-known Croatian entrepreneur and investor Nenad Bakić, who launched a Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to reform the education system and in just two days fulfilled his goal of collecting 60,000 dollars, has faced an incomprehensible reaction from the Ministry of Education and Science, reports Jutarnji List on January 20, 2017.

Croatian Makers, a organization which together with Bakić wants for every child in 6th or 7th grade to be introduced to the latest robotics technology, submitted its project to the Ministry, but Education Minister Barišić has decided that the project was not worthy of being selected among 128 projects which the Ministry will financially support this year. The Croatian Makers initiative has so far been supported by 1,136 individual persons and companies, donating more than 156,000 dollars through an Indiegogo campaign.

Bakić reacted via Facebook to the decision of the Education Ministry and cited the reasons for the refusal which he described as “mockery and humiliation”. As one of the reasons, the Ministry rejected the initiative because “the project does not includes volunteers”. Bakić’s comment: “I am a volunteer 12 hours a day, and what about all the teachers.”

Also, the project which has been met with enthusiastic support among donors was rejected by the Ministry because they have not received “any grants so far”, “they have not proved well enough their operational and organizational capacity”, and “have not clearly described the competition and training for students that will precede the competition itself”. In addition, the Ministry rejected the project because it “does not have established partnership with units of local and regional self-government”, although they actually have signed agreements with 360 schools and NGOs.

Bakić said that he personally sent an e-mail to Minister Barišić asking him to reconsider the decision and to schedule a meeting. Bakić explained that later he met the Minister at a reception, introduced himself and reminded him about the e-mail, but the Minister never sent his reply. “This is the reason why education reform cannot succeed if it is done by the Ministry, but we will ‘hack’ the system and deliver to children, their parents and the society what they need”, said Bakić.

Shortly after the news was published by Croatian media, Bakić announced that he was contacted by the Minister, who has now scheduled a meeting with Barišić.

The aim of the Croatian Makers project is to enable a wide-ranging inclusion of robotics, automation and programming into elementary school education. All participants receive robots as a loan and eventually into permanent ownership. The platform for the league is the educational robot mBot which facilitates an easy entry into the world of robotics, but also allows for a more advanced use.


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