All-European Study on Policies for

Education for Democratic Citizenship (EDC)





to the


Stocktaking Research on Policies for Education for Democratic Citizenship in Southeast Europe - Country Report: Croatia

Council of Europe, doc. DGIV/EDU/CIT (2001) 45 Croatia


d r a f t



Vedrana Spajic-Vrkas

Faculty of Philosophy University of Zagreb



August 2003




This report is a follow-up to the regional project Stocktaking Research on Policies for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Management of Diversity in Southeast Europe which was carried out in Croatia under the auspices of the Council of Europe and the Enhanced Graz-Process in the first half of 2001 (Council of Europe doc. DGIV/EDU/CIT (2001) 45 Croatia). With the exception of a few introductory paragraphs, the data presented in this report cover the period from July 2001 to July 2003. Wherever possible, the report follows the instructions from the Terms of reference for EDC coordinators and the All-European Study on Policies for Education for Democratic Citizenship Revised Study Guide. However, a full compliance with the guidelines was impossible to achieve due to non-existent resources and a limited administrative support in the phase of data collection. Since the follow-up to the practitioners’ viewpoints had not been envisaged for the present report, a few such comments here included were originally collected in two projects which were carried out by the Research and Training Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship of the Faculty of Philosophy University of Zagreb as part of regional projects. The Project on Education for Democratic Citizenship: From Policy to Effective Practice through Quality Assurance (EDC-QA) is being coordinated by the CEPS Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the Research on Youth by the PRONI Institute, Sweden.









Croatian Education System


By 2000 Croatian education system has outlived several reform attempts to bring this sector closer to the needs of a transitional economy and society which were additionally burdened by the war aggression. Due to an overly-politicised approach to education which was further strengthened by an extremely centralised decision-making, the system remained underdeveloped, misbalanced internally and marginalized in regard to other important sectors. The result was that the system of education became even more vulnerable to new social and economic challenges after a decade of transition. 


Preschool education


The preschool education subsystem encompasses children of six months to the school-entrance age. According to the Law on Preschool Upbringing and Education, its main objective is a safe, supportive and healthy environment for the development of cognitive, social and physical skills of each child. It comprises three types of institutions: nursery schools, kindergartens and "small schools" (preparatory programmes for elementary school). Alternative programmes, such as Montessori, Waldorf, Agazzi, Reggio Emilia and Step by Step are well represented. Minority and religious communities run their own preschool institutions. Children with special needs go through special institutions or special programmes in regular institutions. However, institutional assistance has been provided for less than one third of all preschool children. There are 329 public and 125 private preschool institutions, two thirds of which were founded by municipalities and towns; the rest were founded by individuals, religious communities and minority organisations. The idea to set up preschool centres, which appeared in the National Programme for Children in 1996, has not yet been realised.


Elementary (compulsory) education


Elementary education lasts eight years and its duration equals compulsory education. Lower elementary level (from 1st to 4th grade) is organised as class teaching while the upper elementary level (from 5th to 8th grade) is conducted as subject-matter teaching. There are 825 central and 1,270 branch public schools, three fourths of which work in two shifts. A great majority of elementary schools implement the national framework curricula structured along the principle of subject-matter teaching. There is also a number of music and alternative, as well as 6 private elementary schools with specific programmes approved by the Ministry of Education and Sport (MoES). Children with special needs attend either special elementary schools or are integrated in regular classrooms. Elementary education of children belonging to national minorities is an integral part of the national school system. There are no independent schools run by a religious community. Religious classes are de iure optional and are, depending on the number of children who opt for such class, taught either in school or in a religious institution.


Secondary education 


The present subsystem of secondary education encompasses 363 public and 26 private schools of 3 types (with 53 students’ boarding houses):

-                      gymnasiums, further divided into general, linguistic, classical, science and math;

-                      vocational schools of two types: 4- and 3-year programmes for secondary vocational qualifications and 1-2 year programmes for lower vocational qualifications;

-                      art secondary schools (art and design, music, dance).

Secondary school is not compulsory. Approximately 95–97% of the elementary school graduates continue their education at this level and approximately 85–90% of the enrolled graduate within the regularly allotted time period. Almost two thirds of all secondary school students attend vocational school programmes. Gymnasiums and 4-year vocational schools lead directly to higher levels of education. Students belonging to minorities may attend minority schools or programmes run by their communities. Students with special needs are educated either in classes with special programmes organised in regular schools or in special secondary schools. There are 14 private gymnasiums and vocational schools, 10 Catholic gymnasiums and 2 secondary schools of other confessions.


Higher education


The system of post-secondary education encompasses 88 public institutions of two types: non-university colleges (polytechnics) and university education and training institutions, including art academies. The duration of the former is 2-4 years while the minimum number of years required for the latter is 4 years after which a student is eligible for post-graduate studies. There are 11 private colleges. Croatia has 5 universities located in Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka, Split and Zadar, which differ considerably in number and type of programmes, staff quality and administrative support. Colleges and faculties enjoy a high level of autonomy in determining their organisation and programmes of study and are loosely linked through university structures. Approximately 120,000 students were enrolled in institutions of higher education during 2000/2001 academic year. However, only 33% of all enrolled students complete university study, 8% of whom finish within the allotted time period. Students of Italian background may enrol in one college programme run by the University of Rijeka. Theological faculties are part of the university structure. In difference to lower levels of education system, which are regulated by special laws and are under the responsibility of the MoES, tertiary education is regulated by the Law on Higher Education and is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST). The coordination between the two is not satisfactory.


Minority Education

Minority cultural rights, including the preservation of their languages, history and cultures through education, are guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, the Constitutional Law on Minority Rights and the Law on Education in the Languages and Scripts of National Minorities. Many minority groups run their own educational institutions, classes or programmes especially at the preschool level, provided they are approved by the MoES since they are an integral part of the national school system. In 2000 there were 62 minority elementary schools, half of which belong to the Serbian minority. Minority secondary schools, classes and programmes exist for Italians, Serbs, Hungarians and Czechs. There is also one college programme for Italian minority at the University of Rijeka. All minority educational institutions and programmes are co-financed from the state budget. At the primary school level three models of minority education are implemented:

·        Model A - schooling in the national minority language (Croatian programmes are translated to the national minority languages; Croatian language is taught 4 hours per week);

·        Model B - bilingual teaching (social sciences and humanities are taught in minority languages, natural sciences in Croatian; Croatian language is taught 4 hours per week);

·        Model C - nurturing mother tongue and culture (5 hours per week throughout the school year; summer schools etc.).


Adult education


The 1991 Census confirmed that about one quarter of the total Croatian population above 15 years of age had not completed elementary education. Hence a number of changes in regard to the organisation and content of adult education in the country were introduced. In 2000 some 45 primary schools organised adult courses in basic literacy; additional 372 organisations provided secondary education and training; while 22 open universities and 150 other organisations were involved in providing basic education, secondary level education and vocational training, as well as retraining and upgrading courses for adult population. 


Teacher training


There are two types of teacher training institutions: a) non-university teacher colleges with 4-year programmes (for all elementary school teachers) and 2-year programmes (for preschool teachers) and b) 4-year university pedagogical and other teacher training faculties (for some categories of elementary and secondary school teachers). Teachers holding a non-teacher training college or a faculty diploma must complete pedagogical, psychological and methodological training prior to or upon their employment by a school. The upgrading of professional knowledge is a statutory obligation of all teachers. It is ensured through the system of accredited conferences, seminars and workshops organised at the national, county and town levels by the Institute for Development in Education, teacher training faculties and colleges, teachers professional associations and actives, as well as by some NGOs. Apart from the lack of clear career paths for teachers, the key problem in this sector is the division of responsibility and the lack of coordination among the MoST, which controls pre-service teacher training, the MoES, which controls in-service teacher training, and the Ministry of Crafts & Small Enterprises, which deals with training of some teachers employed by vocational schools.



Post-2000 education policy changes


After the general elections held on 3 January 2000 the new Croatian Government launched the Working Programme of the Government of the Republic of Croatia for the Period 2000-2004. The document defines educational priorities in the context of overall national goals, which are defined in terms of the country’s economic and social stabilisation and its preparation for the European integration. After October 2001 when the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and Its Member States and the Republic of Croatia was signed in Luxembourg, the changes in all major sectors have been planned in compliance with the Agreement.


The overall priorities of the Working Programme of the Government of the Republic of Croatia for the Period 2000-2004 were the following:

·      political system (abrogating the elements of autocratic governance and the para-state centres of power by strengthening separation of powers, especially parliamentary democracy and by reducing the power of the president);

·      democracy and civil society (promotion of human rights and freedoms, in particular freedom of worship and equality of religious communities, including interfaith dialogue);

·      freedom of the media (promoting media self-regulation, independence and pluralism in production and distribution of information);

·      displaced persons and refugees (assistance to the areas devastated by war, by ensuring reconstruction of houses, economic recovery and development);

·      non-governmental organisations and civil society (promoting the right to association and providing support to civil organisations and initiatives).


Educational priorities were defined as part of the social welfare policy. The document refers to education as "a strategic priority for the overall development of Croatian society". It seeks to promote an efficient school system closer to European standards. Specific objectives of educational reform are summarised as follows:

·      promotion of democratic principles (human rights and freedoms, openness, innovation, tolerance and diversity);

·      decentralisation (financing, management and curricula);

·      pluralisation of curricula;

·      gradual increase in the state budget for education to reach the European standards;

·      strengthening of co-operation with trade unions, NGOs, international organisations etc.;

·      computerisation of schools;

·      promotion of education of children belonging to Croatian Diaspora and minority groups.


The Basis for Restructuring the Croatian School System (Osnova za ustroj skolstva Republike Hrvatske) was the first paper prepared by an expert group of the Education Council of the MoES. The document was issued in 2000 following the Government’s Programme. It was meant to initiate professional and public debate on the priorities of educational reform so as to make the system more efficient in ‘fulfilling its social role’.


A rather politicised debate initiated by the document was a clear sign that neither in the post-2000 period the consensus on changes in this sector would have been easy to achieve. As a consequence, two expert groups were set up to prepare the new document. One group continued to work under the auspices of the MoES (Education Council), while the other group was set up by the central Government and was linked to the Office for the Strategy of the Development of the Republic of Croatia. In September 2001 the latter group finalised the White Paper on Croatian Education as part of an overall Strategy for the Development of the Republic of Croatia 'Croatia in the 21st Century'. The paper conceptualises education in life-long perspective as ‘a factor of national development’ and links it to the quest for improvement of the quality of life of an individual and a society based on knowledge. Three paths of reform were identified in relation to:

-                curricular subsystem (knowledge and skills with transfer value; interdisciplinary and innovative approach to the development of an open, democratic, inclusive, balanced school curricula with the European dimension);

-                technological system (diversified learning which leads to understanding; non-authoritarian and supportive school climate; improvement of professional information and guidance; advancing education and status of teachers; development of the system of competencies recognition);

-                the link between education and the environment (partnership between schools and out-of-school organisations and interest groups; decentralisation and deregulation of school system; promotion of an equitable, accessible, passable, flexible and well co-ordinated system which is financially adequately supported.


The document explicitly states that ‘the competences for active citizenship and for employment are amongst the most important objectives of lifelong learning’, and that human rights, equality, pluralism and civil society are the foundations for the 'improvement of the quality of life'. However, these concepts are poorly defined and are loosely related to central objectives of Croatian education reform, such as the curriculum development, revision of legislative in education, further decentralisation, development of national quality indicators and external system of evaluation, teacher pre-service and in-service education and training, the development of R&D institutions and advisory services, etc.


The Education Council of the MoES published the Concept of Changes in the Education System of the Republic of Croatia (Project ‘Sources’) in the beginning of 2002. The document outlines the starting points, objectives and principles of education reform and goes on to define structural changes, as well as changes in curricula for all levels and types of schools, including private and minority schools, as well as Croatian schools abroad. The framework for assessment, management, governance and financing of schools, as well as for teacher pre-service and in-service training is also drawn. The approach is said to be guided by the principles of democracy, decentralisation, autonomy, pluralism, globalisation and international standards and cooperation. The list of objectives includes, inter alias, the promotion of equal opportunities and social inclusion, development of Croatian and European culture, improvement of education quality and appreciation of ethical values. Among the ‘principles’ upon which the reform should be based the document mentions human rights, ‘democratic behaviour’, pluralism, religious freedom, equality, national identity and European dimension, friendly school environment, decentralisation, deconcentration and deregulation of the system etc. The document was presented at the International Conference on Education – Changing Croatian education system as part of the stabilisation and association process, which was held in Zagreb, May 24-25, 2002 under the auspices of the MoES, OECD, Council of Europe and the Stability Pact Task Force Education and Youth.


In compliance with the decision reached at the joint meeting of the three coordinating bodies of the Government held in October 2002, the MoES drafted a new document - The Project on Croatian Education System for the 21st Century, which was a compilation of the Concept of Changes in the Education System of the Republic of Croatia and the White Book on Croatian Education. The paper was the basis for developing the Priority Measures in Education System for 2002-2004. As for 2002 the following measures were suggested:

-                      promote a disburdening model for elementary school and gymnasium by reducing and restructuring the framework plans and programmes;

-                      develop students’ standard;

-                      transform the Institute for Development in Education into an independent institution and establish the National Council of Parents and the National Council for Life-long Learning.

Among the 2003 priorities there are: the promotion of multiple foreign language learning; development of a pedagogical standard; pilot implementation of the state post-secondary school examination; drafting of general and specific laws on education; the preparation for the PISA Project and the establishment of the Principals’ School. For 2004 the focus is on the development of national curricula; the development of life-long teacher training model; the improvement of self-evaluation and external evaluation of schools.

Both documents were adopted by the Government in November but neither of them passed in the Parliament in February 2003. The main obstacle seemed to be the extension of compulsory education from 8 to 9 years and the introduction of a 3+3+3 model which the Parliament deemed inadequate and costly for Croatia.

For our further analysis it is important to stress that EDC is not explicitly referred to in any of the strategic papers on education reform described above, despite the fact that all documents more or less explicitly mention human rights, democracy and citizenship as the target values of educational reform. Consequently, the Priority Measures for 2002-2004 do not include HRE and EDC, either.


Besides, although the Constitutional foundations for HRE and EDC do exist, there are no legal provisions for their implementation either in the Law on Elementary Education or the Law on Secondary Education. The laws were amended in 2001 with a view to promote financial and management decentralisation in education. The law on secondary schooling determines that the representatives of the students' council may participate in the work of the school committee, which is the main governing body of school, but they have no right to vote. Such gap between the Constitutional provisions on the one hand, and laws on education and strategic papers, on the other hand, may be solved by drafting an executive by-law by the MoES which would determine the implementation of HRE and EDC as a statutory obligation of teachers and schools.






The promotion of HRE and EDC


According to the Mid-term Review of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education, Croatia is one of a few countries in the world with a comprehensive model of the National Human Rights Education Programme which encompasses 6 sub-programmes (preschool, lower primary, upper primary and secondary, adult education and media). The programme was developed in the second half of the 1990s under the auspices of the National Human Rights Education Committee. It is based on a multifaceted, trans-disciplinary and experiential approach to learning about, for and in human rights throughout one's life and in cooperation of formal and non-formal education sectors. The programme explicitly states that the main aim of HRE is to assist children, young people and adults in learning the basic principles on which the promotion of human dignity, democracy and plural society is based, as well as to develop their skills for an active, productive and responsible participation in society. Apart from human rights and freedoms, democracy and pluralism, some of the programme's constituent concepts are: equality, social justice, inclusion and respect for difference, non-violence and partnership. As such, the programme encompasses the very key aspects of EDC as well as of other approaches, including peace, intercultural and global education.


In 1999 Education for Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship was integrated into the Framework Plan and Programme for Primary Schools issued by the MoES. The document explicitly states that human rights and democratic citizenship education is an integral part of the elementary school curriculum which may be implemented cross-curricularly, as an optional school subject or as an extra-curricular project activity. Although no such provisions were explicitly made for preschools and secondary schools, the MoES began in 1998-99 to organise regular in-service training for all categories of teachers and school counsellors (pedagogues and psychologists, i.e. the multipliers). First seminars were carried out in cooperation with the Human Rights Education Associates and with the Netherlands support. From 2000 the MoES has nominated one superior counsellor for the implementation of HRE and one for civic education at the central level and 21 county HRE coordinators to facilitate the implementation of HRE in schools. HRE teacher training seminars are regularly announced in the Catalogue of Professional Meetings, which is issued by the MoES twice a year and disseminated to schools. They are often realised in cooperation with external experts and some NGOs (Small Step, Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights, Forum for Freedom in Education, Croatian Red Cross, Kulturkontakt etc.). In the last several years the training has included a wide range of topics, such as: curricular approach to HRE; protection of the child’s rights in school; cooperative learning; project and workshop teaching; partnership with parents and the local community; student-oriented HRE planning; quality communication in HRE; HRE and students with special needs; European dimension in schools; prevention of risk behaviour; HIV and AIDS prevention in education; Holocaust; HRE in the context of students’ disburdening approach etc.


The reactions of the teachers who have received training in HRE indicate that the National HRE Programme may be used as a broad framework or ‘glue’ for a variety of projects and activities carried out by schools and NGOs in this field, including, for instance, Croatian Citizenship Sites in Varazdin, Zagreb and Labin; Europe at School; Quality School Movement Project; Project ‘Citizen’; YouthNET Project (European Youth, School and Community Network); Human Values Project; Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking; Debate Club; Peer Mediation Project and a number of others. Some HRE and EDC projects have brought considerable changes into schools and their local communities, especially in regard to students’ participation in decision-making (Students’ Clubs in schools, Youth City Councils, youth volunteer initiatives etc.), as well as in regard to new approaches to school organisation, planning and management (self-improving schools; all-school development planning etc.). In some cases the implementation of the National Strategy for Prevention of Violence in Schools of 2001 and the initiatives regarding HIV/AIDS and drug abuse awareness rising are well attuned with the objectives of HRE and EDC.


Several steps forward in the implementation of HRE and EDC were made in 2002 and in the beginning of 2003:


-                Firstly, the National HRE Committee decided in 2002 to establish the coordinating units for HRE and EDC from preschool to university level, including adult education and media. A special coordination for EDC for all levels was also set up. The units are expected to develop a more efficient strategy for implementation of HRE and EDC throughout the system, which is still lacking in Croatia.

-                Secondly, the Department for International Cooperation in Education of the MoES sent in February 2003 to all local government offices for education a letter with a translated version of the Recommendation (2002)12 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on education for democratic citizenship. The purpose of this communication was to bring the local offices’ attention to the Recommendation as an important contribution to implementation of National HRE Programme. Local offices are explicitly asked to disseminate the Recommendation to all schools under their jurisdiction and to support school and NGO projects and initiatives in HRE and EDC with a view to better prepare Croatia for the European Year of Citizenship in 2005.

-                Thirdly, a special tender for NGOs projects in education was launched by MoES in spring of 2003 on the basis of the Government’s decision to allocate lottery tax to NGOs activities which was also in line with the new Law on Association and the Programme of Co-operation of the Government of Croatia with Non-governmental - Non-profit Sector in the Republic of Croatia, of 2001. However, the decision has actually discriminated against schools, which are only rarely and insignificantly financially supported for such projects by the MoES despite the fact that they are expected to implement HRE and EDC in their curricular and extra-curricular activities.


Another contribution to developing HRE and EDC in Croatia is the establishment of the Research and Training Center for Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship as a self-supporting unit of the Faculty of Philosophy University of Zagreb in 2002. The Centre aims to promote interdisciplinary research, curricula development, training and data collection in HRE and EDC, especially for the university level and in regard to teacher training, which is still underdeveloped in Croatia. The Centre’s web-site ( is meant to be developed both as an information and interaction site for researchers and practitioners in HRE and EDC field. In addition, the Centre has disseminated more than 1,500 publications in HRE and EDC developed by the former UNESCO project on Peace and Human Rights for Croatian Primary Schools and the Council of Europe project on EDC (Interdisciplinary Dictionary, the Collection of International and National Documents in HR, Stocktaking Research on EDC in Croatia etc.) to schools, libraries, NGOs and faculties in Croatia and other countries in SEE. 

However, the implementation of HRE and EDC in Croatia is still unsystematic and sporadic and it depends on the individual motivation of teachers and school principals, which makes this field even more vulnerable. This is mostly due to the fact, as stated above, that HRE and EDC are not explicitly referred to in any of the strategic papers on education reform launched by the MoES. This is inconsistent with the fact that human rights, democracy and citizenship are defined as the target values of educational reform.




Changes indirectly affecting the implementation of HRE and EDC


Since 2001 there has been a certain number of changes in education and youth sector that may indirectly trigger further development of HRE and EDC in Croatia.


-                In December 2002 the State Institute for the Protection of Family, Maternity and Youth launched a demanding National Programme of Action for Youth in the Republic of Croatia as a means of implementing the Article 62 of the Constitution which establishes the duty of the state 'to protect maternity, children and youth, as well as to create social, cultural, educational and material and other preconditions for promoting the right to live in dignity'. The Programme defines the guiding principles of the youth policy, sets up concrete measures and identifies main actors responsible for implementation at the level of central and local government and self-government, as well as among public institutions and civil society organisations. Some of the key objectives of the working plan refer to the promotion of youth active participation in decision-making at local and national level, the mobility and engagement of young people in civil society, the introduction of an open system of formal and informal education, the promotion of continuous and life-long skill-oriented learning, counselling, and support to youth NGOs and NGOs for youth. The recently established National Youth Council is expected to contribute to the implementation of the working plan by, inter alias, coordinating the activities of local youth councils, including educational and training dimension.

-                In 2002 the Institute for Development in Education was established as an independent institution. Prior to that, the Institute had acted as a special MoES’ agency responsible for pedagogical and methodological supervision of schools, as well as for teacher training in subject-matter, including HRE and EDC. Its main project for 2002-03 refers to designing and implementing a disburdening model for elementary school and gymnasium. Instead of an earlier subject-matter-centred approach, the model introduces the so-called teaching areas developed through the process of integration and coordination of different teaching contents, including HRE and EDC. The focus is on promoting ‘life skills’ in school and out-of-school activities of students, which implies the reduction of extra-school activities imposed on students by their parents, as well. The results have been published in a series of 8 publications (5 for elementary school and 3 for gymnasium) entitled A Curricular Approach to Changes in Elementary Schooling/Gymnasium: Detailed Working Out of the Framework Plan and Programme in the Function of Disburdening of Students. Another project in which the Institute takes part is the reform of vocational education and training, which is being carried out through the CARDS Programme. The reform has been drafted by the Croatian Government and the European Commission on the basis of the ETF’s assessment. The focus is on curriculum change, decentralisation, and teacher training.

-                In 2002 the Centre for Research and Development in Education (CERD) was put into operation on the basis of agreement between MoES, Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) and the Open Society Institute – Croatia. The mandate of the Centre is to support reform by conducting four projects, i.e. the feasibility study on the duration of compulsory education; the drafting of a national curriculum and a catalogue of knowledge and skills (indicators of quality); the improvement of teacher training in the context of life-long education; and development of a system of internal and external evaluation in education. The project on evaluation received an important support in July 2003 when the Government passed a draft Law on the Establishment of the Centre for Evaluation in Education as an independent national agency for promoting external evaluation in education with an initial mandate to set up the state post-secondary school examination.

-                In 2002-3 academic year the MoES allocated special resources for the following purposes: the development of professional (teachers) councils at the county and municipal/town level and the improvement of teacher in-service training; the training of school principals and the establishment of the National Council of School Principals; the renewal of school advisory services encompassing pedagogues, psychologists and special educators and improvement of their in-service training; the implementation of school security (drugs and AIDS prevention) programmes; the promotion of multiple foreign languages learning; and further computerisation of schools and teacher training in ICT.

-                In 2003 the government adopted the Textbook Standard, which, apart from scientific, psychological, didactic-methodological, linguistic, esthetical and technical standards, defines ethical standards for the development of school textbooks. Ethical standards are said to be based on the principles of “truthfulness, authenticity, objectivity, universal human rights, democracy and patriotism”. Consequently, the textbook should, inter alias, strengthen the commitment to the principles of democracy and rule of law; oppose the promotion of anti-democratic ideologies; affirm respect for differences and minority cultures; reflect plurality of the Croatian society and accurately present different religious and ethnic groups, as well as oppose discrimination and hate speech on the ground of sex, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic background etc.




Since no resources were provided to survey the practitioners’ and stockholders’ viewpoints on the development of HRE and EDC in the country after 2001, when the first stocktaking research on EDC policies was carried out, we shall briefly summarise the results of two studies conducted by the Research and Training Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship of the Faculty of Philosophy University of Zagreb, in the framework of two regional projects. The Project on Education for Democratic Citizenship: From Policy to Effective Practice through Quality Assurance (EDC-QA) has been coordinated by CEPS from Ljubljana, Slovenia. Croatian part of the research was conducted in May-June 2003 on the basis of structured interviews with 48 decision-makers, strategy writers, superior advisers, researchers, teachers, NGO trainers and trade-union leaders. The Research on Croatian Youth was carried out in December 2002 - January 2003 as part of a regional study coordinated by the PRONI Institute, Sweden. The questionnaire was applied on 950 young respondents.


When compared to the 2001 Stocktaking research, the results of the EDC-QA study confirm that very few obstacles to development of EDC in the country have been efficiently removed between 2001 and 2003. However, it seems that the awareness about EDC has been raised considerably among the practitioners and that more schools have been implementing such projects alone or in cooperation with local or international IGOs or NGOs. The most promising in this respect is the fact that the interest for HRE and EDC has been growing among schools located in small towns. Several reports confirm that the implementation of HRE and EDC has an important impact on curricula, methods of teaching, teacher-student relations and school climate, as well as on the relations of schools to parents and local community. Many respondents from the EDC-QA study confirmed that HRE and EDC had a central role in developing the system of quality assurance in education since they provide teachers and students with skills and competences which are necessary for schools’ planning and self-improvement. It has been said that the definition of quality necessarily includes the issues of EDC, in particular the awareness of human rights and freedoms, participation, equality of treatment, respect for diversity, environmental awareness, individual responsibility etc. One of the respondents put it briefly: “Education quality without human rights is problematic.”


Many practitioners are concerned with the fact that HRE and EDC have no place in education strategy papers and that no clear directive has been launched yet by the Ministry. Besides, they see the barriers to development of HRE and EDC in “an outmoded approach to knowledge that stresses quantity of information instead of intellectual, social and communicative skills and competences by which learning is set free from school and linked to life.” The lack of school autonomy, formalism of the national inspectorate, inadequacy of advisory service and the lack of accountability were often mentioned as factors which hinder the integration of HRE and EDC into teaching. In addition, an important suggestion was made to include HRE and EDC among the indicators of education quality.


The data from our Research on Youth demonstrate that the decision-makers should put more effort to promote learning for participative and responsible citizenship based on respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels of Croatian society. A strong argument for this is the necessity to bridge the gap between the ideal and the real, which characterises young people’s perception of Croatian society. Namely, values that are mostly preferred by Croatian youth are healthy environment, peace, gender equality, individual rights and freedoms, solidarity, social justice, economic security, respect for differences and the rule of law. However, when asked about values they see as the most important for upward mobility in Croatian society, many young people mention adaptive behaviour and ‘important’ connections and acquaintances. Moreover, over one third of the surveyed think that national background and party membership, as well as bribing and corruption, are equally important for someone’s success. These findings are even more troublesome when compared to earlier studies on youth in which almost the same factors of social promotion dominate. The fact that there is no significant difference in perceptions of Croatian society by ‘socialist’ and by ‘transitional’ youth is the strongest argument for the development of HRE and EDC.








Official documents

The Basis for Restructuring the Croatian School System, Zagreb: Ministry of Education and Sport, June 2000.

The Concept of Changes in the Education System of the Republic of Croatia, Zagreb: Ministry of Education and Sport, Education Council, 2002.

The Development of Education: National Report on Educational Development in the Republic of Croatia, Zagreb: Ministry of Education and Sport, May 2001.

National Human Rights Education Programme: Volume 1: Preschool, Elementary School - Class and Subject Instruction, Secondary School, Zagreb: The Government of the Republic of Croatia, 1999.

National Programme of Action for Youth of the Republic of Croatia, Zagreb: The State Institute for the Protection of Family, Maternity and Youth, October 2002.

Strategy for the Development of the Republic of Croatia ' Croatia in the 21st Century': White Paper on Croatian Education, Zagreb: The Government of the Republic of Croatia, Office for the Strategy of the Development of the Republic of Croatia, September 2001.



Commission of European Communities, Commission Staff Working Paper: Croatia: Stabilisation and Association Report 2003, COM (2003) 139 Final, Brussels, 26.3.2003 SEK (2003) 341.

Harrison, C. and Baumgartl, B. Stocktaking Research on Policies for Education for Democratic Citizenship and Management of Diversity in Southeast Europe: Regional Analysis and Intervention Proposals, Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2001, Doc. DGIV/EDU/CIT (2001)45 Final, Regional Report.

Initial Vocational Education and Training in the Republic of Croatia: Assessment and Options for Development – Report by the International Peer Review Team, Turin: ETF, March 2003.

Spajic-Vrkas, V. Stocktaking Research on Policies for Education for Democratic Citizenship in Southeast Europe - Country Report: Croatia, Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2001, Doc. DGIV/EDU/CIT (2001)45 Croatia (http://www.ffzg.hre-edc).

Spajic-Vrkas, V. and Ilisin, V. PRONI Regional Project on Youth: Youth in Croatia 2002, Zagreb: Research and Training Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship of the Faculty of Philosophy University of Zagreb, April 2003 (http://www.ffzg.hre-edc).

Thematic Review of National Policies for Education: Croatia, Paris: OECD, 2001 Doc. CCNM/DEELSA/ED(2001)5.

Vocational Education and Training in Croatia, Turin: European Training Foundation, 2001.







Due to lack of research on the national level, the lists given here do not contain all relevant actors in the field. There are many more institutions/persons that deal with EDC/HRE and in order to obtain a more reliable list, nation-wide survey should be performed.



NGOs and other organisations/institutions


B.a.b.e. - Grupa za zenska ljudska prava (Be active, Be emancipated – Women’s Human Rights Group)


Centar za direktnu zastitu ljudskih prava (Center for Direct Protection of Human Rights) 

Centar za mir, nenasilje i ljudska prava – Osijek (Centre for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights - Osijek)

Centar za mirovne studije (Centre for Peace Studies)


Centar za zenske studije Zagreb (Centre for Women’s Studies Zagreb) 


Drustvo za psiholosku pomoc (DPP) (Society for Psychological Assistance)


Europski dom Zagreb (Europe House Zagreb)

Europski pokret Hrvatska (European Movement Croatia)

Europski klub mladih (EuroYouth Club) 


Forum za slobodu odgoja (Forum for Freedom in Education)


Hrvatski Crveni kriz (Croatian Red Cross)


Hrvatski helsinski odbor za ljudska prava (Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights)


Hrvatski obrazovni portal skola (Croatian Educational School portal)

Hrvatski pravni centar (Croatian Law Centre)


Hrvatsko debatno drustvo (Croatian Debating Society)

Istrazivacko-obrazovni centar za ljudska prava i demokratsko gradjanstvo Filozofskog fakulteta Sveucilista u Zagrebu (Research and Training Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship, Faculty of Philosophy University of Zagreb),

email:; web:


“Korak po Korak”, Udruga roditelja (Association of Parents Step by Step)


Mali korak - Centar za kulturu mira i nenasilja Zagreb (Small Step – Centre for Culture of Peace and Nonviolence Zagreb)


Web-stranice hrvatskih osnovnih i srednjih skola (Web-pages of Croatian Elementary and Secondary Schools)



Practitioners/Researchers/Programme designers



-                      Ms. Renata Bacic, Europe House Zagreb, Jurisiceva 1, 10000 Zagreb (youth training in EDC and HRE; Europe at School)

-                      Dr. Biljana Kasic, Centre for Women’s Studies Zagreb, Berislaviceva 12, 10000 Zagreb (women’s rights; responsive patterns of communication)

-                      Ms. Katarina Kruhonja, Centre for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights, Osijek, Zupanijska 7, 31 000 Osijek (EDC and HRE programme development; teacher and student non-formal training)

-                      Ms. Mira Kunstek, Association of Parents ‘Step-by-Step’, Fausta Vrancica bb, 10000 Zagreb (non-formal training in DC and HR)

-                      Ms. Vesna Puhovski, Forum for Freedom in Education, Kralja Drzislava 12, 10000 Zagreb (training in critical thinking skills; non-formal training in DC and HR)

-                      Ms. Mirjana Radakovic, Center for Human Rights, Kralja Drzislava 6, 10000 Zagreb (non-formal training in DC and HR)

-                      Ms. Sanja Sarnavka, Be active, Be emancipated – Women’s Human Rights Group, Vlaška 79/III, 10000 Zagreb (violations of women’s rights; gender equality; gender stereotypes in textbooks)

-                      Ms. Bozica Sedlic, Europe House Slavonski Brod, Antuna Barca 30, 35 000 Slavonski Brod (youth training in HR and DC)

-                      Ms. Maja Uzelac, Small Step, Kraljevec 77a, 10000 Zagreb (EDC and HRE programme development; teacher in-service training; students’ peer-mediation)

-                      Dr. Hrvoje Vrgoc, Croatian Pedagogical and Literary Assembly, Trg marsala Tita 4, 10000 Zagreb (teacher training in democracy and tolerance)

-                      Mr. Tihomir Ziljak, Open University Zagreb, Ulica Grada Vukovara 68, 10000 Zagreb (adult education in DC and HR)


Teachers’ Academy, 10000 Zagreb, Savska 77/III,

-                      Prof. Dr. Milan Matijevic (programme development and teacher training in HRE and EDC)

-                      Ms. Renata Ridjicki (programme development and teacher training in HRE and development education)

-                      Prof. Dr. Majda Rijavec (programme development and teacher training in self-empowerment)

-                      Prof. Dr. Mile Silov (programme development and teacher training in HRE)

-                      Dr. Biserka Soco (programme development and teacher training in democratic skills)

-                      Ms. Velimira Velicki (programme development and teacher training in democratic skills)




Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Ivana Lucica 3


-                      Prof. Dr. Vjekoslav Afric, Department of Sociology (HRE/EDC and ICT)

-                      Ms. Jasmina Bozic, Research and Training Center for HRE and EDC (HRE, training of Roma youth for leadership)

-                      Prof. Dr. Gvozden Flego, Department of Philosophy (university students’ training in HRE and EDC)

-                      Dr. Neven Hrvatic, Department of Education (research on Roma)

-                      Prof. Dr. Dubravka Males, Department of Education (programme development and preschool teacher training in HRE and EDC)

-                      Prof. Dr. Zarko Puhovski, Department of Philosophy and Croatian Helsinki Committee (promotion of human rights and freedoms, democracy and civil society)

-                      Prof. Dr. Vedrana Spajic-Vrkas, Department of Education and the Research and Training Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Citizenship (programme development, research and teacher training in HRE and EDC)

-                      Prof. Dr. Vlasta Vizek, Department of Psychology (university training in critical thinking skills)


Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Trg marsala Tita 14


-                      Mr. Djordje Gardasevic (training in HR)

-                      Prof. Dr. Dubravka Hrabar (children’s rights)

-                      Dr. Sinisa Rodin (European law; training in HR)


Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Lepusiceva 3

-                      Mr. Berto Salaj (university students’ training and research in civic education)

-                      Prof. Dr. Vladimir Vujcic (university programme development and training and research in civic education)


Experts from other higher education, research and similar institutions

-                      Prof. Dr. Biserka Belicza, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 10000 Zagreb, Zrinski trg 11 (genome, health and HR)

-                      Dr. Branka Baranovic, Center for Research and Development in Education, Institute for Social Research Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Tomislavov trg 21 (gender stereotypes in textbooks)

-                      Prof. Dr. Ladislav Bognar, Faculty of Education, University of Osijek, 31000 Osijek, L. Jagera 9 (programme development and teacher training in HRE and EDC)

-                      Prof. Dr. Jasminka Ledic, Faculty of Philosophy University of Rijeka, 51000 Rijeka, Omladinska 14 (teacher training in promoting democracy and civil society)

-                      Ms. Nevenka Loncaric-Jelacic, Institute for Development in Education, 10000 Zagreb, Badaliceva 21 (teacher training in HRE and EDC)

-                      Dr. Elvi Pirsl, Faculty of Philosophy – Pula, University of Rijeka, 52000 Pula, Ivana Matetica Ronjgova 1 (teacher training in intercultural education)

-                      Dr. Sanja Spoljar Vrzina, Institute of Anthropology - Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Ulica Grada Vukovara 72/IV (medical sciences and HR)

-                      Ms. Ivanka Stricevic, City Library ‘Medvescak’, 10000 Zagreb, Trg zrtava fasizma 7 (programme development and preschool teacher training in HRE and EDC; HRE and library service)

-                      Prof. Dr. Petar Veic, Police Academy Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Avenija G. Suska 1 (police training programmes in HRE and democracy)