Ministry of Science and Education Republic of Croatia, March 2020. For the Ministry: minister prof. Blaženka Divjak, PhD
For distance learning to be able to function, every student must have Internet access at home. Since a number of students do not have Internet access at home due to socio-economic reasons, teleoperators have been involved, providing a SIM card with free-of-charge access to educational content and an additional 2 GB of Internet per month for all students who needed it.
Within the framework of research carried out in 74 schools included in the experimental programme “School for Life“, students were asked if they had any IT equipment at their disposal that can be used for access to digital content, to the Internet in general and for communication.
The analysis of the replies of students attending the 5th and 7th primary school classes and the 1st secondary school class, included in the experimental programme “School for Life”, shows that a great majority of students or almost 94% have their own smartphone, while 92% of students have a desktop computer or a laptop at their disposal at home.
All students attending the 5th and 7th primary school classes have been provided with a tablet to be able learn at home. In addition, around 10,000 tablets have been procured for class teaching at school so that class teachers could use them with lower primary school students for the purposes of group work under teachers’ supervision.
Since learning was organised via public TV for lower primary school students, and class teachers have set up communication channels with parents (via smartphones), thus assigning tasks to students, the Ministry has instructed school principals to distribute devices for class teaching to students attending the 6th and 8th classes who do not have a device and Internet access at home. The principals have mostly distributed tablets according to needs, and the principals of those schools whose needs are greater than the number of available tablets for class teaching have contacted the Ministry which has allocated funds for the purchase of tablets. The parents were obliged to fill in a form confirming under criminal and material liability that they neither possess a device nor have Internet access, in order to avoid the misuse of this mechanism and for the equipment to reach those most in need.
At the beginning of the school year, the Ministry allocated funds to secondary schools, on the basis of the number of 1st class students receiving guaranteed minimum benefit (GMB), for the purchase of tablets for these students. Before distance learning was launched, the Ministry had allocated around HRK 4 million to secondary schools for the purchase of devices for students of lower socio-economic background attending the 2nd, 3rd and 4th classes to be able to attend distance learning classes. Since it was not possible to collect data on all students receiving the GMB in such a short time, the Ministry has estimated the number on the basis of data on the 1st classes, and the parents were obliged to sign a form (as mentioned above) confirming under criminal and material liability that they neither possess a device nor have Internet access, so as to avoid the misuse of this measure.
26,000 computers were procured for teachers in 2019. The computers were distributed to schools in October and November 2019. Additionally, the principals can distribute computers that are located in IT classrooms in schools to teachers. In case some teachers still do not have a computer, or one of their own, the principal can contact the Ministry for funds to purchase a computer.
Besides attending distance learning classes on TV, it can also be attended on the ‘School for Life’ webpage and the corresponding YouTube channel, as well as via HRT3 and SPTV television channels. Alternative channels have been provided for all educational content, so we believe that at least one of them will be available to you.