boris jokić, eSkills.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ / mm

More than 14,000 people have signed an online petition, launched on Wednesday, after a national team of experts in charge of an integral curricular reform tendered their irrevocable resignations over political pressure.

"We feel an obligation to react to the ease with which the parliamentary committee on science and education has jeopardised the efforts of the best and most valuable Croatian experts on education," reads the text of the petition launched by Ivana Cosic and Ivana Sekol, members of the Croatian academic community.

They recalled that in the last elections none of the political parties had any serious position on the curricular reform in their political platforms, while today the parliament and its committees, including the committee on science and education, "is made of people who until six months ago did not have any opinion on the curriculum."

"It's absurd that now that same committee is telling those who have dedicated their lives to understanding education processes and have put on hold their successful academic and teaching careers to develop the curricular reform, that they are not competent enough to make decisions regarding education," Cosic and Sekol said, wondering how additional experts in the national team for the curricular reform could be more competent than the expert team itself, which was formed after open and transparent public selection procedures and comprised the best education experts and practitioners.

"Why didn't the ten additional experts who are now being proposed start the curricular reform on their own? How come their competencies are necessary only now, when the implementation of the reform is about to begin? Why weren't they important when it took sparing no effort and showing the knowledge, will and enthusiasm to devise and write the reform from scratch?," the authors of the petition wondered.

As a sign of support for the national team for the curricular reform and its leader Boris Jokic, a Facebook profile was created and it has been liked by more than 5,000 people, while the number of people signing the online petition has been growing by the hour and around noon was 14,500.

The civil society group "Croatia can do better" will stage a protest in support of the national team for the curricular reform in downtown Zagreb on June 1. 

The association RODA - Parents in Action supported the integral curricular reform, calling on its Facebook profile on citizens to join it in the protest, to be held in Zagreb's central Ban Josip Jelacic Square.

"Let us make it possible for our children to grow up in a modern, well-thought-out education system that will give them competitive competencies and skills for life in the 21st century. Let us support the integral curricular reform headed by Boris Jokic and his team of experts, based on scientific facts," RODA said on its Facebook profile.

It also called on citizens to send e-mail messages to Science and Education Minister Predrag Sustar, the government and the parliamentary committee for education, science and culture, saying that they want their children "to grow up and be educated in a modern and competitive system of education" and that they support the curricular reform.

The initiative "Croatia can do better" comprises the GOOD initiative, RODA, the Forum for the Freedom of Education, the Centre for Peace Studies, GONG, the Croatian Debate Society, the parents' association "Korak po korak" and others.

Another civil society association, "Kulturnjaci 2016", too, supported the curricular reform and the team in charge of it.

It stressed that it was intolerable "that a project of national importance is being obstructed by marginal political groups that are polarising society, destroying institutional processes and the public school system, health and culture in order to strengthen their own political position."

"Among representatives of such marginal radical groups are Zlatko Hasanbegovic, Ladislav Ilcic and Zeljka Markic," the association said.

It noted that the reform was devised "in an open, professional and democratic atmosphere, with more than 60,000 participating teachers and professors" and called for the resignation of Science and Education Minister Predrag Sustar and the government, "which is demonstrating an utter lack of competence and causing serious damage not only to education but also the health system, culture and art, media freedoms, women's rights and freedom of opinion and choice."

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