Spotting citizenship education in Croatia

In the course of the 12 years of NECE conferences taking place all over Europe, participants often signalized an interest in getting to know more about the respective host cities or countries. So 2016 means sort of a new beginning for NECE when it comes to a more thorough involvement of local aspects of citizen education in the respective areas.

The opening panel of NECE 2016 in Zagreb allowed insights into the impressive engagement of some of the key figures of citizenship education in Croatia.

Eli Pijaca Plavšić from the GOOD Initiative looked back on the „most dynamic and interesting year for citizenship education in the recent history of Croatia“. As many other educators in the country she has been fighting for the implementation of citizenship education for many years to finally witness a certain progress, facing a future still uncertain though because of many remaining obstacles.

Boris Jokić from the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, who was thoroughly involved in a curriculua reform that was initiated in 2015 showed a deep engagement with certain values tied to citizenship education, such as solidarity to be embedded within the educational system, a strong national European and cosmopolitan identity, as well as integrity towards a certain hypocrisy determining different systems such as the military or the church in Croatia.

He pointed it out to be crucial for a functioning society not only in Croatia but  all over the world to develop key skills to raise critical thinking.

Berto Šalaj and
 Vedrana Spajić-Vrkaš from the University of Zagreb reported some obstacles regarding citizenship education such as a lack of political courage or downright fear of strong nationalist or antidemocratic influential interest groups in Croatia which block processes of citizen education in Croatia in many ways.

As Eli Pijaca Plavšić added with a certain concern, research shows that high-school students in Croatia carry a significant hostility towards LGBT and national minorities - which in turn emphasizes the need for a stronger role of citizenship education.

The following discussion showed also how unfamiliar the term citizenship education still sounds in, as Vedrana Spajić-Vrkaš named it, a post-socialist country that is still fighting for a national identity, but also what impressive amounts of hope and passionate engagement the prospect of „deliberation“ through citizenship education -as Berto Šalaj put it – exist in Croatia.

More information about the educational system in Croatia here.

Citizenship Education
Conference Day: 

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