The head of a team of experts working on an integral curricular reform, Boris Jokic, and his team on Wednesday tendered irrevocable resignations due to political pressure, saying their decision was final and non-negotiable.
"At this moment we don't have the impression that there is support for us as a group and trust in us as people to continue with this process. We were fully for dialogue, we were even ready to have this working group expanded. However, we can't agree to political influence, either from the left, the right or the centre. Professionals must always come before politics," Jokic told a news conference.
"The political pressure is simple in this case. The parliamentary (science) committee adopted a decision to expand the working group in certain fields, which wouldn't have been a problem had it somehow been communicated. However, what (the decision) says the group should do doesn't match the description and nature of what this reform has been from the start. Those conclusions say that the group should determine what to accept in expert discussions and what not to, which actually points to certain censorship procedures and returns us to the time of communism, when the morally suitable were appointed to certain councils," Jokic said.
If politics dictates the education reform and what professionals should do, nothing will come of it, he added.
Jokic said he spoke to Education Minister Predrag Sustar shortly before the news conference and that he believed that "Minister Sustar wants this change."
"Unfortunately, the political moment in Croatia is such that marginal options can impact matters which should be of national importance. If the dominating political parties, first and foremost the HDZ, the SDP and Bridge, don't unanimously agree that a change of education is necessary, then we don't stand a chance in the long term and marginal political structures and parties can impact very important processes in the future of this country," Jokic said.
Asked if he was referring to Hrast, a minor partner in the HDZ-led ruling coalition, he said he was. "People must come before documents and therefore we ask that Minister Sustar relieve of duties the leader and members of the expert working group... We hope this society will find the strength to continue the (curricular reform) process and we as people are willing to help... and will do our best so that it survives."
Jokic said that after 16 months of working on the reform, he was confident that "Croatian education has shown with this process that it can do better. This country can do better and will certainly succeed in that." He said the basic prerequisites were professionals before politics and people before documents and politics.
He also thanked everyone who took part in and supported his team's work, including President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko.