The children in Croatia start school the year they turn seven and have eight years of compulsory schooling. Almost everyone attends elementary school. Most go on to high school. The school suffers from lack of resources and outdated curricula.
Preschool is from infancy, although most preschools are for children from the age of three. Almost all children go at least one school preparation year before starting regular school.
The compulsory compulsory school is divided into two four-year stages. In the first, the children have a class teacher, and in the second several different subject teachers. Almost everyone goes to state schools but some private schools have been added since independence in 1991.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Croatia, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
At the corresponding upper secondary level, there are four-year college preparation programs, four-year artist-oriented programs and vocational programs that are up to four years long. In 2010, a degree was introduced at the high school’s end, which replaced an earlier system of entrance exams to the university.
During the communist era (1945–1991) great resources were invested in the school, but the students were not taught to think independently and critically. The HDZ regime in the 1990s instead went in to make the school more nationalist Croatian, especially in subjects such as history. This has changed later, but according to EU estimates, the Croatian school is still suffering from outdated curricula and inadequate teaching materials. The premises are substandard and there is little money in the school system.
There are seven state universities in Croatia. The University of Zagreb was founded as early as 1669. In recent years, several private universities and colleges have been added. The proportion of residents with some form of higher education is lower than in the rest of the EU, but is increasing.
- Searchforpublicschools: Offers schooling information of Croatia in each level – compulsory, technical and higher education programs.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
87.5 percent (2016)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
99.1 percent (2011)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
9.5 percent (2013)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
9.5 percent (2013)
Comprehensive bribe in healthcare
After a year’s investigation of a comprehensive corruption case, 364 people are being prosecuted for bribes from a pharmaceutical company to healthcare workers. These are about 300 doctors, but also other healthcare employees, pharmacists and employees at the company. The defendants risk several years in prison. Some doctors have received conditional judgment and a fine for sparing the medical profession from losing too many doctors.
Requirements for limiting rights for minorities
War veterans and other right-wing actors have had over 650,000 people sign an appeal for a referendum on diminishing rights for minorities. The Committee behind the call wants official use of Serbian and Cyrillic writing to be limited to municipalities with at least half Serbs instead of one-third as now (see November 2013). The government condemns the initiative with the referendum, and Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić declares that EU membership obliges Croatia to comply with existing legislation on minority rights. In August 2014, the Constitutional Court bans such a referendum and says it is not “reasonably fair”. However, the Court finds that Parliament has the right to increase the percentage required.
No to same-sex marriage
In a referendum, 66 percent support a requirement that a ban on same-sex marriage be included in the Constitution. The referendum is then held by an alliance of conservative groups with the support of the Catholic Church collecting some 750,000 signatures.
War veterans want to vote on Cyrillic signs
On the 22nd anniversary of Vukovar’s fall, Croatian war veterans launch a campaign for the referendum on official use of Cyrillic writing. The war veterans have repeatedly demonstrated in the autumn and protested, among other things, by tearing down bilingual street signs (see February 2013). They now want to collect signatures for the referendum with the suggestion that Cyrillic writing may be used only in places where Serbs are in the majority, instead of one-third according to current law. In Vukovar, about a third of the population is Serbs.
A new party is formed
Former Environment Minister Mirela Holy forms a new party, Sustainable Development of Croatia (Orah). Holy has left the Social Democrats after a conflict with the party leadership.
The government reverses the extradition law
Following threats of punitive action by the European Commission, the government agrees to amend a new extradition law. According to the law passed in late June, Croatia would not extradite people for crimes committed before 2002, a way to bypass an EU rule from that year. According to critics, the purpose of the law was to protect a communist-era spy chief who was suspected of murdering a German dissident in 1983. Following the threats of EU sanctions, Parliament is now voting to amend the law. In 2014, two former spy bosses, Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustać, are extradited to Germany where they are later sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.
The last state bank is sold
The government decides to privatize the last state bank Hrvatska Postanska Bank and the country’s largest insurance company Croatia Osiguranje. The intention is to reduce the central government debt and the budget deficit.
Croatia becomes an EU member
The official entry into the Union is celebrated with fireworks and President Josipović describes it as a historic moment. Among the population at large, the enthusiasm for EU membership has cooled since negotiations began several years ago. The country’s economy is in deep crisis and it is hoped that a Union that itself has major economic problems will be able to help Croatia.
Elections to the European Parliament
A special election to the European Parliament will be held in Croatia ahead of the country’s entry into the Union at the end of the next six months. The election is won by the opposition party HDZ, which takes six of Croatia’s twelve seats in parliament. The turnout is only 21 percent.
Bank dispute with Slovenia resolved
Croatia and Slovenia sign an agreement for an old banking dispute from the 1990s to be resolved by international mediators. It was the last practical obstacle to Croatia’s entry into the EU at the turn of the year. The EU Commission’s final report states that Croatia fulfilled all EU membership requirements.
Demonstrations against Cyrillic street signs
Over 20,000 war veterans and other Croat nationalists demonstrate in Vukovar against the authorities’ plans to erect street signs with not only Latin but also Cyrillic writing in the city. By law, ethnic minorities should be able to use their languages in areas where they make up at least a third of the population, and according to recently published census results, Serbs do so in Vukovar and some 20 other municipalities. The protesters, however, demand that an exception be made for 50 years for Vukovar, because Serbian attackers destroyed the city and displaced and killed Croats in the war in 1991. A similar demonstration in Zagreb in April gathers around 25,000 people.