ZAGREB, Sept 14, 2020 – PM Andrej Plenkovic has said that he does not understand the children’s ombudsman’s statement that religious content being practiced outside Religious Education in some schools is unacceptable, noting that complete absence of any religious content would be odd for a country with so many Catholics.
“As far as content at school events is concerned, I think we live in a free country and that it would be truly unusual in a country with so many faithful, so many Catholics, not to have any religious content anywhere,” Plenkovic told the press during a visit to Mostar on Monday.
He was referring to a statement by ombudsman Helenca Pirnat-Dragicevic, who commented on religious content outside Religious Education classes in elementary schools in an interview with Hina.
Pirnat-Dragicevic said that her office “sees a problem in religious content being practiced often in some schools even outside Religious Education classes, for example at school events,” adding that she considers this to be unacceptable.
Plenkovic said he did not see what would be achieved with that, noting that religion was part of the Croatian tradition and identity.
“I truly do not see how such content could be eliminated from some plays. I do not understand the statement,” said Plenkovic.
The ombudsman for children also commented on problems regarding the organization of Religious Education classes in elementary schools with coronavirus restrictions in force, which recommend that classes not be mixed, which results in some children, who are not enrolled in Religious Education classes, having to attend those classes even though they do not participate in them.
“We consider that Religious Education, just like any other elective subject, should be held at the start or end of the day and we recommend introducing an alternative elective subject for children who do not attend Religious Education classes, similar to the practice in secondary schools, which have ethics as the alternative subject,” said Pirnat-Dragicevic.
In a comment on this, Plenkovic said that as far as school schedules are concerned, he believes that each school is making pragmatic decisions that are to the benefit of pupils.