In its guidelines for culture, education and science that were presented in the national parliament on Friday, the government led by Tihomir Oreskovic envisages an increase in budget funds for culture to 1% of GDP in 2016, as well as the gradual alignment of budget allocations for education and science with the European average.
In 2017 and 2018, budget funds for culture would be increased to 1.5% of GDP. Allocations for culture in the 2014 budget were 0.49% of GDP.
Under the new government's guidelines, investments in education and in research and development will be gradually increased to the European average.
In 2014, for example, as shown by a report from the parliamentary committee on education, science and culture drawn up in November that year, average budget allocations for education accounted for 3.5% of GDP, while the European average was 4.5%. The European average for research was above 2.5% and the Croatian average was around 0.7% of GDP.
Croatia must define a strategy for its cultural development affirming the importance of culture as a foundation of its national identity, its recognisability and reputation in the EU and the rest of the world, and promoting culture based on the principles of excellence and diversity, with quality planning and networking of cultural programmes and with respect for tradition and openness to new trends.
The strategy is expected to affirm "Croatia's belonging to the Mediterranean and central European circles and to promote the Croatian identity through literature, visual arts, music, theatre and film," according to the guidelines.
In determining which cultural institutions, programmes and events are of strategic importance, the key criterion should be production and presentation of own content that preserves and promotes the national cultural identity, according to the guidelines.
Under the document, agencies that now operate as part of the Science, Education and Sport Ministry will be dissolved and an Institute for the Education System will be established, encompassing all educational institutions.
The document also envisages the introduction of educational supervision and of the office of the chief supervisor of the educational system, to be appointed by the parliament for a period of five years.
The ongoing process of curricular reform will be stopped, and based on a detailed analysis the strategy will be revised and its shortcomings corrected, a process that will involve all interested stakeholders.
In the field of education, special emphasis will be put on the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Also, the strategy envisages the introduction of the final school leaving exam for primary schools and the development of an efficient system of scholarships for students.
The guidelines also envisage the elaboration of policies for the promotion of teachers and the gradual introduction of a system for rewarding and penalising teachers based on a systematic monitoring of teachers' and students' performance, as well as the protection of teachers against violence coming from students and parents.
As for the system of higher education, all non-integrated universities will be legally integrated, the number of studies financed from the state budget will be downsized and the role of scientific institutes will be redefined based on their re-accreditation. The quality of post-graduate courses will be increased by introducing stricter criteria for dissertations.
The guidelines also envisage the fight against corruption in the academic community, notably plagiarism, and the elimination of political influence on education and science.
The guidelines envisage also the lowering of the VAT rate on research equipment to 5%, the evening out of criteria for free textbooks and transportation on the national level, and the establishment of a fund for projects to be financed with EU money.