6.7 Skills for innovation
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The teaching curriculum for primary schools includes an educational policy commitment to innovation. However, the only mention in the curriculum is of technical innovation as a process in teaching technical culture, specifically in the field of technical creativity and in the aspect of technical innovation. The curricula for individual classes lack any mention of innovation.
The Strategy for Education, Science and Technology mentions innovation as an important determinant of the education system. A comprehensive curriculum reform was proposed, with one of its goals being the development of innovation. None of the proposed measures is specifically aimed at the students’ innovation skills.
The Vocational Education and Training (VET) System Development Programme 2016-2020 emphasises the support for innovation and vocational schools’ projects to enhance capacities and ensure relevant, creative, and contemporary vocational education and training in partnership with companies and the community in general.
The carrier of this measure is the Ministry of Science and Education (MSE), and its implementation also involves the Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes (AMEUP) and the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education. The envisioned result is to ensure normative, financial, and organisational prerequisites for school, teacher, employee, and student participation in projects aimed at the innovation of various sectors and educational practices.
The Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNet) project titled Schools 2.0 is aimed at providing quality and comprehensive distance learning and e-education. The schools were equipped with wireless networks, enabling students and teachers to access online learning materials, and digital textbooks, as well as to engage in distance learning. Also, the schools were equipped with scientific learning technologies (sensors) for natural sciences.
According to the Ministerial Decision for the school year 2022/2023, a total of 133 projects were awarded with a sum of €1 797 462.98. Among the awarded projects in this field are those from the priority area ’Improving the quality of life of children and young people’, as well.
The Croatian National Development Strategy 2030, under the second strategic goal ‘Education and Employed People’, emphasises the importance of acquiring and developing basic and professional competencies. Vocational education is in the focus of education policy, highlighted by the following two priorities:
- enhancing the quality, efficiency, and relevance of the vocational education system through strengthening and promoting work-based learning, excellence, and flexibility
- further developing regional centres of competence and enhancing the quality of vocational schools’ work, along with strengthening their connections with the economy and the labour market
The MSE grants non-refundable funds to associations for projects related to extra-institutional education of children and youth, including the fostering of creativity and imagination.
According to the Ministerial Decision (Odluka) for the school year 2022/2023, a total of 133 projects were awarded with a sum of €1 797 462.98. Among the awarded projects in this field are those from the priority area ’Encouraging the development of competences in the field of science and mathematics’, as well.
The promotion of innovation, in cooperation with schools, was launched by a non-governmental association – the Institute for Youth Development and Innovativity (IRIM). Their activities promote programming skills and robotics. In 2017, The MSE, in cooperation with the Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNet) and the IRIM, conducted the Pro Mikro project. The initial phase of the project was financed through a highly successful crowdfunding campaign and IRIM's own internal resources, while the subsequent phase received funding from the MSE. The project aimed to enhance digital literacy through the use of microcomputers. Participants in the project were students from sixth grade, and the project was implemented both in classrooms and through extracurricular activities.
The Croatian Association of Innovators has developed a programme for systematically working with young innovators. The programme includes the establishment of sections for young innovators, participation in national and international exhibitions, as well as a national exhibition for young innovators.
The main part of the Union of Croatian Innovators (INOVA Croatia) platform is the INOVA 2023 exhibition. This exhibition provides a global opportunity for inventors to showcase their inventions, ranking as the second oldest invention show worldwide, initiated in 1971. A section of the exhibition, called INOVA-YOUTH 2023, is dedicated to young people.