The People's Coalition on Tuesday presented its education platform at the Rijeka University Campus, with Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader and former prime minister Zoran Milanovic saying that his government's results could not be downplayed and that the SDP-led coalition was offering itself to Croatian citizens to continue the job it had been doing.
The People's Coalition's education platform is based on the education, science and technology strategy that during the term of the Zoran Milanovic government was adopted in parliament "almost by consensus", said Neven Budak, who in Milanovic's government chaired an expert commission in charge of implementing the education strategy.
The main goal of that project was to ensure equally good education for all, depending on their capabilities and interests, said Budak.
The coalition's education platform will place emphasis on the continuation on the curriculum reform as it was at the time when it was conducted by the expert task force led by Boris Jokic, Budak said, expressing hope that he would have the chance to offer Jokic and his associates to continue their work.
The experimental stage of implementing the curriculum reform is likely to start as of the next school year, said Budak.
The curriculum reform requires revising the Bologna Process, training the teaching staff, licencing school heads and teachers, and working on a different system of student evaluation, said Budak.
As for higher education, Budak said the coalition planned to employ several hundred assistant university lecturers, increase the number of employees in higher education by 15% and increase investments to continue research projects from 50 million to 100 million kuna.
The share of allocations from GDP for education and science is to be increased to 2% by 2020 and allocations for education, both from the budget and from extra-budgetary sources, are to be increased to 6% in total, Budak said, adding that additional investments worth HRK 7.5 billion were to be made with the help of EU funds.
Milanovic said that it was not clear why over the past eight months some government measures had been put on hold, such as the curriculum reform. The reasons for that are neither political nor ideological, he said, adding that the only possible explanation was the lack of competence of the people currently running the country.
When asked why reforms in the education system had not been implemented during the term of his government, Milanovic said that in the last five months of his government's term around 500 junior researchers and senior lecturers had been employed.
The plan was to hire 1,400 and we will see that plan through, said Milanovic.
As for his political rivals, Milanovic said that he was "looking forward to debates to take place."
It is good that in recent months there have been no harsh words from political leaders that used to be said during the past four years, said Milanovic, adding that he interpreted it as a sign of good intentions rather than something accidental.
Asked if the salute "For the homeland, ready" required an interpretation by historians, Milanovic said that he would not allow yet another election campaign to be contaminated by such things.
"After ten years in public life, my positions are clear, you won't hear a word from me on that during the campaign. It is clear what Croatia was built on," Milanovic said, adding that "the other side should concern themselves with that, they obviously do not know any better."
Milanovic said that he had been preparing for debates for ten years, not because of his political rivals, in this case HDZ leader Andrej Plenkovic, but because citizens should be given answers to their questions.
Vesna Pusic, an honorary president of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), a partner in the People's Coalition, said that education was a political issue of the utmost importance and that it was important for a nation's profile and economy.