Croatia in Demographic Crisis

Total Croatia News

This year, there will be 1,375 first-grade pupils less than last year.

This year, Croatia will have 40,503 first-grade pupils. These are the first unofficial data from the Education Ministry, which show a dramatic fact – in just one year, Croatia has lost 1,375 pupils. Last year, there were 41,878 pupils enrolled in the first grade, reports Večernji List on August 1, 2016.

If we compare current data on first graders with the data from a decade ago, the current numbers look even worse. In 2006/2007 academic year, there were 44,509 pupils enrolled in the first grade, or about 4,000 pupils more than this year. President of the School Trade Union Željko Stipić points out that the dramatic decline in the number of pupils started ten to twelve years ago. “At the end of the 1990s, each generation had about 50,000 pupils, and there were about 400,000 pupils enrolled in primary schools. However, today the total number of pupils is just over 330,000.”

“The demographic breakdown which has hit Croatia affects the education system as well. An almost 50 percent reduction in the number of pupils in the last twenty years is a reason for concern for anyone who thinks about the future of Croatia, and especially those who are in government”, warns demographer Stjepan Šterc. Therefore, he believes that it is necessary to implement an organizational, technical and spatial reform of the school system in order to avoid unplanned closures and layoffs of teachers.

“It is estimated that the annual reduction in the number pupils will reach approximately 4,000, which includes the migration of families with children. The figures are stark and very disturbing, but we are still not doing anything to stop the trends”, says Šterc.

“We do not have appropriate demographic policies or a plan what to do with the surplus of teachers in schools. If we lose sixty or seventy classes, this means that as many teachers have become redundant. Such a drastic decline in the number of pupils shows that we become a nation without a future. We will soon have to start importing workers, and the sustainability of the pension system will be in doubt”, says Stipić.


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