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ANG 160 Fall 2005


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Education system in Croatie

 (by Sandra Katicic)

Since the country gained its independence in 1991, the government of Croatia has kept the same educational reform. It would be false to believe that its school program is the most coherent, however it is well structured and efficient. The general goal of education in Croatia is to help the country define itself as an independent state with its own culture and language, and as a part of Europe. The educational system of Croatia includes four levels. First of all, there is a pre-school education. That level certainly gives children an opportunity to develop basic skills in order to prepare them for the next level. We are talking here about the skills such as how to get along with others and to learn to read and to write. Although there is this opportunity, less than thirty five percent of children attend pre-school education. Seeing that Croatia is an old traditional country, mothers are used to staying at home and educating their children. However, once a child is seven years old, he/she is obliged to start primary school. That level lasts eight years. In other words, primary education is offered to those from seven to fifteen years of age. What is important to know is that completing the basic education in Croatia is like completing  high school education in Quebec. Some would say that eight years is not sufficient and that students can not learn anything, but, in the basic education, students see and learn a lot. Those eight years are intensive. Nowadays in Croatia, children start to learn two second languages from the grade one in most of the schools across the country. Moreover, starting in grade 4, they learn science, chemistry, geography, and history. Talking about these two last courses, teachers do not only teach students about their own country and culture. The education of history and geography is unlimited. Students must know everything. They are asked to learn much more than those students in the North America.

At the basic level, the enrollment is around 94%. After the basic education, follows secondary education. Its system includes general education (e.g. grammar schools), vocational education (technical, industrial, and crafts schools), and art schools. These studies last three to four years and are equivalent to a DEC (diplôme d’études collégiales: technique). Here are some examples of professions concerning the secondary education: a cook, a hairdresser, a salesperson. For sure, this level of education is offered to all; however, not all students continue their studies after the basic level. Once that step is completed, students have an opportunity to go further onto tertiary education. This tertiary education does not only concern universities but also non-university colleges, polytechnics, and schools of higher education. That means somebody who would like to become a professor, a doctor, an editor, an engineer must obviously attend one of those three streams of studies.

This Croatian school system has never been criticized as being unqualified, however it has been proved to lack objectivity. Its main problem concerns the evaluation. The same methods of assessing students is used in all schools and all levels across the country. Teachers lack the basic quality criteria, such as reliability, objectivity, and validity in their evaluation. Oral exams are administered within the school. Teachers and professors believe that this oral method is one of the best strategies for assessing one’s learning. This kind of examination is very efficient for both the teacher and the student. The student has more opportunity to express himself/herself. His/her answer is not limited in terms of words and syntax. While, the teacher has more chance to see if the student really studied, or just cheated or memorized the subject. Finally, students’ results are not compared from one school, class, or region to another.