Croatia ‘must change its outdated education system to get people into work’, says European Commission

The European Commission adopted a series of economic policy recommendations to individual member states today (2 June) to strengthen the economic recovery.

The recommendations included the need “to preserve growth-enhancing expenditure in education, research and innovation” and to “push for further reforms in … R&D systems”, amongst others, to make economies more competitive.

The European Commission (EC) recommendations are based on detailed analyses of each country’s situation and provide guidance on how to boost growth, increase competitiveness and create jobs in 2014-2015.

Croatia seems to have gotten off lightly with regards to its struggling R&D system, but its poorly performing education system has been highlighted as not fit for purpose and in need of change.

Youth unemployment, it says, “increased drastically and reached almost 50% in 2013, while the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training keeps increasing”.

This includes university educated people. The EC says that Croatia’s “employment rates among recent graduates are significantly lower than in the rest of the EU.”

“Croatia also faces serious challenges in education as regards labour-market relevance and quality of provision across all educational sectors,” the EC says.

“Work-based learning and career guidance across secondary and tertiary education are lacking while employers’ engagement with vocational education and training, and secondary and tertiary education is low.”

But there is some hope with regards to the ongoing, if slow, reforms.

“The outdated vocational education and training system is undergoing a reform in the form of piloting new school curricula,” the EC says. “The implementation of the Croatian Qualifications Framework and the Strategy on Education, Science and Technology is pending but should improve educational outcomes and align them with labour market needs.”

The recommendations for 2014-2015 say Croatia should: “Implement measures to improve the labour market relevance and quality of education outcomes by modernising the qualification systems, by putting in place quality assurance mechanisms and by improving school to-work transitions, notably through strengthening vocational education and work-based learning.”

The country-specific recommendations will be discussed by EU leaders and EU ministers this month before being formally adopted by the EU’s Council of Finance Ministers on 8 July. It is then up to member states to implement the recommendations by taking them up when drafting their national budgets and other relevant policies for 2015.

Mićo Tatalović

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2 thoughts on “Croatia ‘must change its outdated education system to get people into work’, says European Commission”

  1. Here’s the national reform plan on education
    4.4. Education
    In the area of education the headline targets are keeping the level of early school leaving at no more than 4% and an increase of the share of persons with completed tertiary education at the age of 30-34 to 35%. In the context of the education system reform, which shall contribute to achieving the set objectives, in the coming period measures for improving the quality and efficiency of the education system, increase of availability of education by easier access to education at all levels and improvement of coordination of the education system and labour market needs shall be implemented. The activities related to the achievement of this goal, and in particular to improvement of quality and efficiency of the education system, are aimed at establishment of a comprehensive and effective system of quality assurance of education at all levels, including external evaluation and self-evaluation of educational institutions, and then at encouragement of adaptability of educational programmes to the needs of the labour market and, the establishment of an effective network of educational institutions and qualifications / programmes / curricula aligned with the needs of the labour market and human resource development, improvement of the system of vocational education through the development of new vocational curriculum aligned with the needs of modern society, especially in terms of the development of key competencies (functional literacy, numeracy, digital competence, foreign languages, entrepreneurship, mathematics and natural sciences, interpersonal and social skills, learning to learn, general culture), and the adoption and implementation of new programmes and curricula based on learning outcomes.
    Given that the existing Network of Primary and Secondary Schools, Student Dormitories and Educational Programmes52 does not meet the needs of the education system and does not ensure uniform conditions and access to education, it is necessary to restructure and establish efficient and effective network of schools and educational programmes, according to which, with the greater autonomy, the available financial resources shall be managed reasonably. The preliminary analysis related to the legal provisions relating to the establishment, termination and status change of schools has been implemented. The analysis of the existing Network of schools and educational programmes, and preparation of a draft guidelines for the development of rational and effective network of schools and educational programmes are in the course of drafting.
    In accordance with the objectives of the draft Strategy for Education, Science and Technology a complete implementation of curricular reform and connection of the components of the educational system in a coherent, connected, flexible and efficient unit, based on common educational values, principles and objectives is being planned. With the same objective, the Act on Amendments to the Preschool Education Act53 and the Act on Amendments to the Primary and Secondary Education Act54 have been enacted. In parallel with the development and adoption of curricular documents, the strengthening of material, infrastructural and personnel requirements necessary for the success of process of introducing the curriculum shall continue to be made. All these activities lead to reform of educational hierarchy in a way to ultimately acquire relevant competencies and skills in line with labour market needs.
    Within the reform of the education system it is planned to early involve children in the education system, or to extend compulsory education. In addition to assuring the viability and effectiveness of the system and raising the level of participation in adult education programmes, the same will provide better conditions for improving the quality of pre-tertiary
    52 OG 70/11
    53 NN 94/13
    54 NN 94/13
    education, i.e. the acquisition of key competences for lifelong learning, strengthening social cohesion and preventing social exclusion and increasing the competitiveness of Croatian society and economy.
    In order to prevent early school leaving, especially with children from poor families and other vulnerable groups having a much higher likelihood of early school leaving, or who fall into the category of young people who are unemployed and are Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET), and ensuring the acquisition of minimum educational standards and additional competencies for vulnerable students, a number of measures such as (co-)funding of textbooks for elementary and high school students who live in poor socio-economic conditions, (co-)funding of textbooks for blind high school students, (co-)funding of transportation for elementary and high school students who live in poor socio-economic conditions and funding of continuing education for students who have completed the two-year and three-year vocational programmes to ensure vertical mobility, shall be implemented.
    The relevance of higher education qualifications in relation to the needs of the labour market shall be increased by the implementation of Croatian Qualifications Framework, as well as by encouraging academic programmes in technical, biomedical, biotechnological and natural (STEM) fields, and in the information and communication field. Regarding the development of a quality assurance system of higher education a five-year cycle of re-accreditation of all higher education institutions, is being conducted, and the procedures of external evaluation of foreign universities by the Agency for Science and Higher Education were launched. An analysis of the implementation of the Action Plan for Removing Obstacles to Mobility for the period from 2010 to 2012 was drafted and based on the same draft of Action Plan for the Internationalization of Higher Education was made. Reforms in the field of higher education in Croatia are aimed at increase of relevance, quality, efficiency and availability of higher education, with the aim to provide quality and socially equitable system of higher education, to realize the strategic goal of 35 % of persons with completed tertiary education at the age of 30-34 by 2020 and acquisition of competences in accordance with the needs of the labour market. Further activities in this area shall seek to improve the quality of higher education and quality assurance system as national, institutional and individual priorities and to shorten the period of acquiring qualifications. Also, the Ordinance on the conditions and manner of exercising the right of state scholarship55 is provided to increase funds for scholarships for students of lower socioeconomic status. Providing direct support for students of lower socioeconomic status, the improvement of high educational infrastructure (particularly institutions related to the students’ standard, such as student dormitories and restaurants), and subsidizing of successful students in order to increase motivation, will result in increase of the number of higher educated persons in the total population. Also, such activities assure the availability of higher education in accordance with the personal abilities and the conditions for its successful completion.

  2. Question: How does the education system of Croatia looks right now? What exactly is what they are doing right now that needs to change?
    I’ll guess this will help to set a context and compare to other countries, something to say that my country is doing “better” or “worst”, in some aspect, than them.