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Minister Divjak gives support to the E-schools project

10. July 2017.
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Thanks to the pilot project of “E-schools: Establishing a System for Developing Digitally Mature Schools, as of autumn, 151 school will be ready for application of a modern teaching style full of new contents and possibilities, it was reported at the presentation of the results of this project implemented by the Croatian Academic and Research Network – CARNET.

After returning to classrooms in the new school year 2017/18, the students will be welcomed by classrooms equipped with computer equipment, teachers who will use computers and tablets acquired for the project and digital educational contents and numerous scenarios of teaching natural science subjects (biology, physics, chemistry) and mathematics for 7th and 8th grades of primary and 1st and 2nd grades of secondary schools. Schools in the pilot project will be equipped with two different types of classrooms, presentation type – equipped with PCs, touch display-monitors, loudspeakers and interactive equipment, which, in addition to presentation equipment, includes 30 tablet computers.

“So far, through the implementation of the e-School pilot project, we have educated a respectable number of almost 20,000 users (teachers, principals and other school staff) on more than 900 workshops and about 15 webinars and courses. Our mobile teams provide continuous professional and consulting support to the schools involved in the pilot project so that from the following school year all those included in the project implementation can use the project equipment and the corresponding technology in the best way possible and teach students even more efficiently”, said during the presentation of the project results Ms Andrijana Prskalo Maček, the project manager and CARNET deputy CEO.

The presentation was also attended by the Minister of Science and Education, prof. Blaženka Divjak, Ph.D., who gave full support to CARNET and its partners in their effort to develop, apply for and acquire funds for the major project in which the coverage of schools will be much larger than it is at present. “A coverage of 100 percent of all primary and secondary schools in Croatia is something which I personally will advocate. I especially stress that the e-School project and digitally mature schools are a major part of the Science and Technology Education Strategy, which is how it should be, and it will remain a part of the Action Plan because improvements in terms of the 21st century education will certainly not be attained without a significant improvement of digital maturity of our schools and equipping of our teachers and students with competences, which will ensure our equality in this part with the rest of the European Union”, stated Minister Divjak during her address to the audience.

The pilot project manager stressed that preparation of test modules for digital educational contents is under way. As of September, teachers and students will access these contents and search them through Edutorij, a repository of digital educational contents, in which publishers, but also the teachers, will publish their own digital course materials. Those contents will also be available to all other primary and secondary schools which are not included in the e-School pilot project implementation, which fulfils one of the most significant project tasks – cooperation, independent creation and exchange of digital contents for teaching among teachers.

Other e-Services, such as business information system, classroom control system and learning analytics and organisation system, CARNET will complete during the new school year, and a public procurement for e-Lektire service is under way, which will also be available through the mentioned Edutorij and will include comprehensive literary works of Croatian and foreign authors from the list of mandatory reading assignments for primary and secondary schools. Furthermore, 170 of the planned 240 teaching scenarios have been created for natural sciences and mathematics, and their creation and implementation is monitored by e-Laboratory with recommendations of tools and applications which can be integrated in the teaching and learning processes.

CARNET will continue with intensive education of school staff and, moreover, in the following school year it plans to open five Regional Training Centres (ROCs) in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek and Varaždin. Every ROC will be equipped with 30 laptops, 30 tablets, lecturers’ computers, monitors, videoconferencing systems and classroom control systems.

The e-Schools Pilot Project: Establishing a System for Developing Digitally Mature Schools, which is being implemented by CARNET with the Education and Teacher Training Agency, the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education and the Faculty of Organization and Informatics of the University of Zagreb, is the most significant educational project in the Republic of Croatia. Its importance was recognised by the European Union which, through its funds (the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund), co-financed 85 % of this project, in the amount of almost 307 million kunas. The e-Schools pilot project is a part of a wider e-Schools programme which is being implemented through several projects of school system information in the period from 2015 to 2022. The pilot project implementation began in 2015 and will last until 2018, after which the second phase of the project will follow in the period from 2019 to 2022. CARNET, which will be the implementing authority of the second phase of the project, expects that it will include 60 % of all primary and secondary schools in Croatia.

By the end of this year, the second public invitation for schools will be published for participation in the second project phase, with the estimated value of 140 million euros. Judging by a recent response of schools which are not included in the e-Schools pilot project, and which were invited to perform a self-evaluation process of their digital maturity (a total of 880 schools responded), there is no doubt that the second project phase will also be exceptionally well accepted.