Nikica Gabrić: Best Students Should be Sent to Best Schools, Repatriated and Allowed to Run the Country

Total Croatia News

The esteemed ophthalmologist and businessman, director of the Svjetlost polyclinic, speaks his mind on the future of Croatia

We bring you an article written by Nikica Gabrić, one of the most esteemed Croatian ophthalmologists and director of the Svjetlost polyclinic in Zagreb. He is a regular professor at the Medical Faculty of Rijeka University. He has published over 400 scientific and expert papers in domestic and foreign magazines, as well as four books. He is also the founder of the first Croatian eye bank LHOB. His personal commitment has introduced several new operational procedures to Croatian medicine. He is the recipient of many awards.

“In order for Croatian children to receive a good education, we must create a system different from the caste one. We live in castes. For labour caste people to move up takes a huge effort, lots of time. It is almost impossible to switch castes. The higher castes are foremen. Above the foremen are managers, then come partners, then owners and the highest caste is capital, or the owners of capital.

In the beginning man must work for others, then work for himself, in order for others to work for him, and in the end for capital to work for him. If they are not supertalents, and slightly lucky for their talent to be realised somewhere, or children of parents earning around 12 thousand kuna monthly in today’s society, they have almost no chance in changing their caste.

I have another model. I believe we have wasted an awful lot of money in the past twenty seven years on the most ridiculous things. Theft, privatisation, corruption, attracting suspicious athletes we gave lots of money and citizenship… Croatia needs to send every year a hundred of the best students – of medicine, electrical engineering, shipbuilding, mechanical engineering, music, philosophy, literature – to the world to get educated. Their schooling at the best colleges can cost a hundred thousand euro per year. So a hundred students times a hundred thousand euro is 10 million euro per year. If we were to send a hundred of them each year, they would complete the best schools, and the people they would meet in these schools are more important than the very diplomas. They would meet people who will be in the most important positions in the world in the coming ten years. Our children, sent to global schools, would be in a position to arrange business, have connections, upon their return they would expand their network of friends and acquaintances. These people would be able to create a new framework and new network, in which talented children of labourers can have the opportunity to get a better education and better life. For today’s generation, unfortunately, there is no good outlook, but in the coming ten, twenty, thirty years we can do a lot to keep young people from leaving Croatia.

Is the networking I speak of enough to win against the positioning of Croatia as a land of services, overly dependent on tourism? When looking from ground level, man does not see much. Climbing to the first floor, he sees more. From the tenth even more. From the fiftieth or hundredth he sees very far. To change things in Croatia, we cannot be run by an elite looking from the first, second or third floor. They simply don’t see what the global trends are and where Croatia should go. We have to create a thousand, or even two thousand specialists, who will bring new knowledge, viewpoints, new work ethics, new standards, which may change this country.

I have been to China. I considered opening a clinic in China or consulting their hospitals. China’s foreign currency reserves were in the 1970s some two billions dollars, and today are larger than two thousand billion dollars. In China kids could not dream of chocolate, let alone college, only to now have 400 million people in the middle class. What gave Chinese children the chance to go to college? Some type of enlightened absolutism, framed into something called a strong party. I do not advocate for this type of system, but someone in that party set strategic goals for fifty years in advance and decided China would be the second or strongest force in the world. And began to invest in their people. Just look at how many Chinese study at the best universities. Look at how many Chinese return home and import knowledge, technology, contacts. The daughter of the Chinese President studied at Harvard under a false name, due to security. I know this because she was in school with my son’s friends. She got the best education and best business contacts, which she used to advance China.

In China I saw… The first matter is a life philosophy. We have a very low work ethic. We don’t have a developed sense of serving. For us serving means being a servant or slave. Croatia has lost all values of serving higher causes. To do something out of honours, for the future. The system of values in Croatia today is a moral self-service. People are ready to take rights, but not duties and responsibility. In Croatia most people don’t work eight hours. In China, for higher causes, they work ten, or even twelve hours. They work eight hours for today, and additional two or four for the future, for their children. In China I was convinced that we must deal more with natural sciences, research, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology. Not to compete with the best American or Chinese institutes. Simply put, every country has two to five percent of smart people. Two to five percent of four million cannot measure up to two to five percent of 1.4 billion. But, there is the road to make us small partners to the world. We cannot be in the capital and owners caste, but we can be in the partner caste. The key is to be partners in comes aspects. It’s not the same whether foreign capital owns one hundred percent of some part of Croatia, or the ratio is 90 to 10, or 70 to 30. It is better to have a quarter of a good business, than one hundred percent of a bad one. This is how I see Croatia and myself.

Ten million euro for a state is not much money. Two armoured limousines less, less unnecessary painting of tunnels, and ten million is found fast. And if in ten years we get people armed with new knowledge, ethics and business contacts…

It could be said that we, the owners of the best Croatian companies, should get together, raise as much money as we can, send as many students to the best colleges as we can, and to make that our life work. Part of us is already doing that. Which is why we are doing well. We replaced state socialism with state capitalism. I would love if the state would be aware of this and developed a long term strategic advantage for Croatia. If the state does not, individuals who want to develop their businesses will school their people themselves. State will have indirect benefits. If the state schools them, the benefit will be direct. My strategic thinking is at the level of need of Svjetlost, my company. And I can do something. But I cannot comprehend that money is spent on the most ridiculous items, and that there is no one in this country who would strategically ponder the needs of the nation. The essence is that we can be small partners to the world. This is within reach. It is better to be a partner, than a devalued labourer.”

Translated from Rafinerija Ideja (idea refinery).


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