ZAGREB, December 15, 2018 – Despite the cold weather, several thousand secondary and primary school teachers and students rallied in central Zagreb on Saturday to draw attention to a difficult safety and financial situation in the Croatian education system and to demand safe schools.
Teachers and students demanded better safety in the classroom, a change of ineffective pedagogical practices, and that assaults on teachers be legally treated as assaults on public officials.
The rally was organised under the motto “For a Safe School” by two teachers’ groups and a teachers’ union. Those gathered were addressed by several teachers and parents who claimed that Croatian schools today are unsafe both for teachers and for well-behaved children who are subjected to violence by unruly students.
“We don’t want to hear any more about prevention programmes and workshops. We want those in charge to finally do what they are well paid for. We demand the status of public officials for all teachers and we want a physical assault on teachers to be treated as it is treated in all civilised countries,” Ivan Plantić, a teacher from Vela Luka on the southern island of Korčula, said to applause from the crowd.
Teachers who took the rostrum spoke of humiliating and offensive situations they had experienced in the classroom.
Franjo Dragičević, a teacher at Technical Secondary School in the northwestern town of Čakovec, received particularly enthusiastic applause. He warned that schools in Croatia had become “warzones for deviants who are targeting teachers and pupils who want to learn.” He pointed the finger at bad regulation and school heads who do not respond to violence in order to maintain good relations with the ministry and stay in their posts.
Dragičević was nearly dismissed from work recently after an incident in the classroom when he confronted and pushed away a student who allegedly threw pieces of chalk at him. His case triggered an avalanche of reactions from other teachers who had experienced similar situations, culminating in today’s rally.
No representatives of the Education Ministry were present at the rally.
More news on the educational system in Croatia can be found in our Politics section.