"This year there are 36,000 first graders in Croatia, which is around 4,000 fewer than in recent years," Minister for Science and Education, Radovan Fuchs, said on Monday, and warned that this was a "far-reaching problem" and that further drop in Croatia's population might result in a surplus of employees in the state-run education system.
Fuchs talked to reporters during a visit to the eastern city of Vukovar, where he attended the opening of the renovated “Nikola Andric” elementary school on the first day of the 2022-23 school year.
“Low birth rates might lead to labor surplus in the education system, from primary schools to higher education institutions,” he said.
According to data from the national statistics bureau, in the 2005-06 school year, 17 years ago, there were close to 46,800 first-graders in the country. Over those 17 years, the number of children starting school dropped by 23 percent.
Fuchs also said that calls for applications for the financing of the reconstruction and construction of schools would start in October, so that all-day schooling at primary schools could be introduced by 2027, according to the education reform plan.
“There are schools in Croatia that operate in two shifts, and do not meet the criteria (to introduce all-day programs). Calls will therefore be published very soon to submit applications for the financing of construction, expansion, renovation and equipment of those buildings,” Fuchs said.
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