The integral curriculum reform could not be implemented for legislative and financial reasons, which is why its participants had to give it up, but their continuing work on the reform when circumstances improve is not ruled out, members of the national expert team that coordinated the integral curriculum reform and was relieved by the science and education minister at its own request on June 17, said at a news conference on Thursday.

Many people who worked on the reform invested their private and professional life in it but were forced to step down because what they had been doing in good faith became compromised and that is why we asked to be relieved of our duties, the former expert team's leader, Boris Jokic, said.

He said that the state authorities had not started work on a legal framework that would enable the experimental introduction of the curriculum reform in schools and that the last state budget did not include funds for its implementation or for the absorption of EU funds for that purpose.

It was clear that the current Science, Education and Sports Ministry was not backing this project because it neither provided operational support nor was willing to protect the curriculum reform project from public attacks and threats to its members, which poisoned the media scene, said Jokic.

He warned that critics of the reform were speaking about minor problems such as segments of individual subjects' curricula, which he said could and should be changed, while operational support, protection of those working on the reform and the legal framework were lacking.

We did not get the answer as to whether the reform would be launched, when, if there was money for it, and if there were laws necessary to implement it, so there was nothing else we could do but ask to be relieved of our duties, said Jokic.

Croatia needs this reform, it can implement it and will do it with or without us, he said, adding that the curriculum reform was the most demanding social process launched in Croatia.

He described as unlawful the minister's having launched a public debate on the reform after having relieved the expert team of their duties.

"There are no legal prerequisites for the debate so what is its purpose?" asked Jokic.

He said that in the first of six stages of the curriculum reform, which refers to the making of curriculum documents, around 480 experts took part, 674 meetings were held, 55 curriculum documents were published and more than 400 presentations of the reform were held.

Of the 12 million kuna envisaged to be spent on the first stage of the reform seven million was spent, mostly on 104 teachers working on the reform, and five million was returned to the state budget.

A total of EUR 50 million is expected to be spent on the reform over a period of five years.

Jokic went on to say that the expert debate on the reform, held from mid-March to early May, involved 64,874 participants, with 2,759 proposals having been submitted to all curriculum documents.

Political camps never had any influence on any of us nor did any of us have any political ambitions, said Jokic, adding that people working on the curriculum reform were of different persuasions and that it was never a problem.

Around 85% of the participants in the reform are women. This is a women's reform and it must succeed, he concluded.

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