20,000 People Protest for Educational Reform

Total Croatia News

One year after major protests for curriculum reform, people have taken to the streets once again.

An impressive number of citizens gathered yesterday in the center of Zagreb, protesting for curricular reform which should be implemented in the spirit of openness, and not in the spirit of conservatism. Although the beginning of the protest, located on Ban Jelačić Square, drew fewer people than expected, the reason was the rain. After the rain stopped and the protest march moved towards the central train station, the number of protesters eventually reached 20,000, reports Novi List on June 2, 2017.

In addition to Zagreb, protesters also gathered in Rijeka, Split, Zadar, Poreč, Karlovac, Osijek and Slavonski Brod. The protests were supported by numerous opposition politicians and public figures.

In their speeches, the organisers said that they did not want Croatia to be a country in which young people learned not to question the authorities. “We want an open Croatia that will help all people, and we want young people who will ask questions,” they stated.

The protesters came to the train station to symbolically warn of the problem of young people moving abroad due to, among other reasons, bad educational policies. They demanded the dismissal of Education Minister Pavo Barišić and chairwoman of the Expert Council for Implementation of Education Strategy, Dijana Vican.

A year ago, 50,000 people went to the streets in favour of education reforms under the motto “Croatia can do better”. Since then, the Education Strategy has been compromised, education has not become a national priority despite public demands and pre-election promises of political parties, curricular reform has not been implemented at all, and education has become a target of various interest and ideological groups wishing to impose their views contrary to constitutional values, said the organisers.

Teacher Vesna Mlinar said that in 21st-century schools were supposed to link science, art and technology, stimulate creativity, communication, innovation, openness, and tolerance, while Croatian schools still operate according to a system that was initiated in the 17th century.

Teacher Žarko Gazzari said that Croatian students must learn many definitions by heart without actually understanding them, learn about obsolete technologies and study for unnecessary occupations in vocational schools.

Student Dorotea Šušak said that curricular reform was a priority of Croatian society and that their collective duty was not to miss this opportunity. “It is our responsibility to demand the beginning of the implementation of the curricular reform,” she said.

“We want a transparent, independent and democratic reform of the education process,” said Marijo Bajkuša from the GOOD Initiative, one of the organisers of the protest. “Each prevented reform has the name and the face of the responsible person. Croatia has lost a lot of citizens in the past five to six years because politicians have been reluctant and indecisive, and did not have a vision for this country,” he said.

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