Introducing Harfa International School in Split: Learning for the Future

Daniela Rogulj

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The name ‘Harfa’ may already ring a bell to some of you in Split as it’s the same as the local publishing house specializing in the literature that stimulates children’s emotional and intellectual development at an early age. 

Harfa International School takes that idea to the next level.

Located on the premises of a Franciscan monastery in Split, Harfa International School was started by entrepreneur Irena Orlović, a neurolinguistic therapist and one of the main protagonists of Mastercard’s short documentary FIVE, which addresses the challenges of women’s entrepreneurship around the world while promoting the more substantial involvement of women in the economy. Irena was chosen to represent Europe in the documentary, and her inspiring story has been watched by millions worldwide. 

Expanding on the ethos of the Harfa Publishing House, Irena and Harfa International School endeavor to encourage the early emotional and intellectual development of children and educate parents on pushing their children to the fullest potential. All content is adapted to the neurological age of the child, while classes are taught by native English speakers. Endorsing understanding over memorization, students independently choose a weekly learning program with access to games, videos, and digital learning content. 

Harfa is a champion for autonomous creators and creative explorers, founded on principles of non-violence and diversity. It is next-level learning in an environment where children feel comfortable and relaxed; where time outside in nature is just as important as inside the classroom. 

“Learning models in which students passively learn facts and quote them out of context are no longer enough because the brain remembers what is important to it. Neuroscience has proven that if we want children to acquire new knowledge, knowledge needs to be given some meaning, and in order for the brain to understand it, its emotional parts need to be included. Through socio-emotional programs, students have the opportunity to express their emotions, learn to empathize, accept differences, feel the environment in which they live and best develop their potential for what can be discovered and created in the world,” said Irena Orlović.

At Harfa, classes are small, with a maximum number of 18 students. Classes are instructed in English, with an emphasis on the Croatian language. The school embraces individuality through various teaching and learning methodologies while closely following the globally recognized International Baccalaureate educational programs starting from the age of 5, and anticipating until the completion of high school. 

The IB PYP curriculum model allows students to develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to participate effectively in life through subject areas like Language and Literature – English/Croatian, Language Acquisition – English/Croatian, Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, and Arts – Music, Visual Art. Students will master these subjects by thinking creatively yet critically, learning through individual work, group assignments, workshops, presentations, plenum, movement, rest, and relaxation to ultimately acquire the knowledge needed to tackle the next phases of life. Each student is celebrated for their talents in a welcoming climate that allows them to discover their best learning practices. 

The Primary Years Programme focuses on holistic learning, intercultural awareness, and communication, using a constructivist, inquiry approach to teaching, learning, and assessing. Students make practical connections between their studies and the real world and are well-equipped to undertake the IB Middle Years Programme which follows after the PYP programs at Harfa.

A variety of modern and didactic materials enhance the Harfa learning environment, designed to inspire, arouse interest and curiosity, and encourage research and experimentation, allowing students to observe and reason while keeping up with the latest trends in technology.

“By a culture of learning that encourages the development of potential, we mean a culture that allows for diversity and enables the development of individual potential and competencies. It is a culture of learning in which each individual child receives the message that his or her uniqueness is perfectly fine and that it is necessary just as it is.”

Overall, Harfa educators apply a learning culture that practices individual, self-organized, and experience-based work, while students are encouraged to question and evaluate information, using their knowledge, experience, and logical thinking to problem-solve in various situations. Harfa parents are also celebrated as protagonists in transforming their child’s potential. 

Built on a culture of connection, trust, and respect, Harfa is a close community where comparisons do not exist; where progress is measured individually yet teamwork is nurtured. An educational society where every child counts.

Harfa International School is located at Poljudsko šetalište 2, 21000 Split. More information can be found on its official website here

All photos by Sara Miller

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