There are just three counties in which the number of first-grade students is higher than last year.
Among more than 310,000 elementary school students, 40,115 first-graders will today enter the schools throughout Croatia for the first time. Although this is just temporary registration data since the final number of first-grade primary school students will be known in early October, there is no doubt – Croatian primary schools have lost 2,139 first-graders compared to last year, reports Večernji List on September 4, 2017.
Just three Croatian counties – Krapina-Zagorje, Karlovac and Lika-Senj – have more first-graders than last year, but even there the increase in minimal. For example, Krapina-Zagorje and Karlovac counties have just 23 first-graders more than last year.
The worst situation is in Osijek-Baranja County – there are 2,451 first-graders, which is 414 students less than last year. The biggest drop in the county has been recorded by the Ivan Kukuljević Primary School in Belišće, where one whole class is missing – 72 pupils will start their first grade today, while last year there were a hundred students.
The numbers are horrible in Brod-Posavina County as well, which lost 307 students, and in Sisak-Moslavina County, where this year there are 228 fewer pupils. The demographic disaster is even more evident if we look at the more long-term data. For example, the number of students at the Antun Mihanović Primary School in Brod-Posavina County in the last eight years decreased by a third: in 2009, it had 830 pupils and last year just 561 students.
The main reason is mass emigration from Slavonia.
“Part of the problem is emigration, and we have had the biggest wave of emigration in the last two years. This year, it has stagnated a little, but we will see what the situation will be in a few months because applications for children leaving the school usually start coming in December,” said the principal of the Antun Mihanović Primary School Snježana Vinarić.
Fewer first-graders will start their classes today even in large towns – Zagreb, Split and Zadar – as well as in the towns in Istria County.
According to the Education Ministry, the potential surplus of the number of teachers due to the smaller number of enrolled pupils will be analysed later, although they are probably going to have more work to do once the curriculum reform is launched next year. Thus, this year’s first-graders are supposed to be the last generation of students who will start their education according to the old curriculum.
“In learning and teaching, I want you to be happy, creative and hard workers, and on the road to acquiring new knowledge, let you be accompanied by playfulness, curiosity, openness and most importantly – tolerance. Croatia is still learning how to be tolerant and therefore it is important that this should start with the schools we are developing,” said Education Minister Blaženka Divjak in her message to all primary and secondary school students for whom the long summer break ends today.
Translated from Večernji List.