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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Ongoing reforms and policy developments


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

Last update: 12 June 2022

This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments since 2016.

The introduction of the chapter describes the overall education strategy and the key objectives across the whole education system. It also looks at how the education reform process is organised and who are the main actors in the decision-making process.

The section on ongoing reforms and policy developments groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels: Early childhood education and care; School education; VET and Adult learning; Higher education; and Transversal skills and Employability. Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.


Overall national education strategy and key objectives


Strategy of Education, Science and Technology

The strategic framework for the ongoing reforms and policy developments in Croatia is given by the draft Strategy of Education, Science and Technology. With the purpose to establishing a comprehensive framework for strategic development of education and training, the Strategy of Education, Science and Technology has been drafted and adopted by the Croatian Government in June 2014. It is envisaged that the Strategy is adopted by the Croatian Parliament in September 2014.

The intensive work on the overall Strategy began in December 2012 with the establishment of the Government Committee for Coordination of the Strategy, chaired by the Prime Minster himself, and the Operational Committee for development of the Strategy with its working groups and thematic subgroups.

Three overall, general objectives that will be in the core of the Strategy are:

  1. Quality education for all as a driving force for economic growth and social welfare;
  2. Research and innovation supporting excellence, industrial leadership, social challenges and contribution to creating jobs, growth, improved quality of life;
  3. Lifelong learning and social inclusion of all citizens with particular emphasis on the marginalized and disadvantaged groups.


Croatian Qualifications Framework (CROQF)

The structural reforms in the field of education and training are directed towards development of a learning society that would combine excellence with equity and contribute to economic success and growth through a skilled workforce, with lifelong access to learning for personal quality of life and active citizenship and social inclusion. Several initiatives have paved the ground for the structural reforms to be undertaken in the next period.

Firstly, Croatian Qualification Framework (CROQF) as the major reforming instrument that provides the framework for structural reforms at all levels of education is aimed at improving the quality and relevance of education reaching better employability. The CROQF calls for development of learning outcomes-based curricula at all levels of education. While establishing the basis for the validation of non-formal and informal learning the CROQF develops an overall sound quality assurance system.

The CROQF that increases transparency of qualifications, improves their consistency, promotes trust in qualifications and enhances the international transparency.

Moreover, the CROQF promotes the shift to a learning outcomes based approach throughout education and training and it provides a basis for recognising a wide range of learning achievements by establishing a system of validation of non-formal and informal learning and by further developing of quality assurance system.

Finally, the CROQF improves the match between qualifications and the labour market needs and it strengthens cooperation and commitment between education and the labour market. More information on the CROQF could be found on the website.


Reforms in the system of early and pre-school, primary and secondary education

Education system in Croatia is directed towards quality improvement in early, pre-school and school education, prevention of early school leaving, better connection of education and training with labor market, improvement of educational outcomes and life skills, reinforcement of vocational education with emphasis on connection with the world of labor, i.e. toward achieving the main goal of Europe 2020 Strategy in the field of education: keeping the level of early school leaving population aged from 18 to 24 at a 4% level.


National Curriculum of the Republic of Croatia for Preschool, Primary and Secondary Education

The development of the National Curriculum of the Republic of Croatia is a part of the Comprehensive Curriculum Reform which is one of the first measures contributing to the realisation of the Strategy of Education, Science and Technology (Strategija znanosti, obrazovanja i tehnologije, Official Gazette 124/2014).

The National Curriculum, which is currently in the preparatory phase, consists of the following three components:

  1. System of national curriculum documents which present the aims related to the purpose, objectives, expectations, outcomes, experiences of children and young people, organisation of the educational process and education evaluation at the national level
  2. Implementation of the national curriculum documents trying to achieve the stated aims
  3. Evaluation of the objectives, expectations, outcomes and process, which is used for monitoring the implementation.

Working groups drafted the propositions of the curriculum documents. Different groups of experts from the field of education were included in the process: educators, teachers, professors, expert associates, school principals as well as scientists from universities and other scientific institutions. All of the proposed curriculum documents went through consultations, expert discussions and public discussions. Documents were published on 14th December 2017.

Following documents are included in the National Curriculum (in Croatian):

Implementation of the national curriculum documents is supposed to provide:

  • to students – a more useful and meaningful education, education appropriate to their age, development and interests, education closer to the everyday life, education which will give them the appropriate training for 21st century, for the world of work, and which will encourage them to participate in continuing education and in the lifelong learning
  • to parents – greater involvement in the education of their children and in the school life, clearly stated expectations, more objective evaluations, more frequent and higher quality feedbacks on their children’s achievements
  • to teachers and other staff – empowering and strengthening the role of the professional conduct, greater work autonomy, more creative work, reduced administrative burden, increased student motivation, reduction of external pressures.

For the implementation of the curriculum reform, 200 million HRK is provided.

By March 2018, following activities were completed within the framework of the curriculum reform:

  • Curriculum documents have been completed and published (14th December 2017).
  • Public call for the selection of the head of the Expert working group for implementation of the curriculum reform was published on 9th March 2018.
  • It was agreed upon that the European Commission will provide assistance to Croatia in evaluating the implementation of the curriculum reform by providing additional funds.
  • Cooperation with other relevant stakeholders and institutions on curriculum reviews and other topics has been carried out.
  • Support projects for implementing the curriculum reform have been prepared.

Various activities have started in order to enable successful implementation of the curriculum reform (timetable available online).


Preparation and implementation of the pilot phase of the comprehensive curriculum reform

The Ministry of Science and Education published the Public call for applications for the experimental program School for life (“Škola za život”) with the deadline set on 15th March 2018. The subject and the aim of the call is to select up to 80 schools (primary and secondary education), which will then join the experimental implementation of the program in the school year 2018/2019. The experimental program will be implemented in first and fifth grade in all teaching subjects, while in the seventh grade only the following subjects will be included: Biology, Chemistry and Physics. In secondary education, the experimental program will be implemented in the first grade of general education (gimnazije) in all subjects and in the first grade of vocational schools with a four-year program, but only in general educational subjects.

The objective of the experimental program is to test the applicability, the methods of work and the new teaching materials proposed by the curriculum. The implementation of the new materials and methods concerns the following objectives: increasing students’ competences in problem solving, increasing students’ satisfaction in the school and motivating their teachers.


Overview of the education reform process and drivers

Croatian education system is centrally managed by the Ministry of Science and Education (MSE). Besides MSE, other national public bodies involved in the regulation, development and quality control of the educational sector in Croatia are Education and Teacher Training Agency, Agency for Vocational Education and Training, Agency for Science and Higher Education, Agency for Mobility and EU Programs and National Center for External Evaluation of Education.

Early education and child care is financed and managed by local authorities, while MSE provides central guidance, accreditation and control over the educational programs which are implemented in organizations providing early education and child care. Primary and secondary education is jointly financed by central and local/regional authorities - central government secures funds for the staff costs, while local authorities cover capital and running expenses. Higher education is almost fully financed from the state (central) budget, with minor share of funding being secured from the higher education institutions' own income.


Article Overview

This article gives an overview of the national ongoing reforms and policy developments in education and training. It groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels:

  • Early Childhood Education and Care
  • School Education
  • Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning
  • Higher Education
  • Transversal Skills and Employability