e-Schools project to increase ICT use in Croatia's education system

The e-Schools project aims to increase information and communication technology (ICT) use in primary and secondary education in Croatia by providing ICT equipment and educational tools for schools and teachers. This will enhance teachers' professional development, improve the quality of education and increase students' employability.

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Computer room equipped under the project at Maritime High School, Zadar ©Juraj Bilić Computer room equipped under the project at Maritime High School, Zadar ©Juraj Bilić

" The project's biggest achievement so far was a public call for schools to formally express their interest in participating in the pilot project. More than 50 % of all Croatian primary and secondary schools applied (over 700) with the formal backing of their founders (municipalities or counties), which clearly displayed that this project already has wide recognition and offers what schools really need, and resulted in the selection of 150 schools that are now actively participating in the project. "

Juraj Bilić, Expert for EU Projects, CARNet – Croatian Academic and Research Network

e-Schools seeks to provide a more systematic approach to the way ICT is introduced into schools in Croatia. To do this, the partners have designed a concept recognising that access to adequate equipment and ultra-fast internet is just the first step; improved ICT use in schools requires higher levels of digital competence among teachers, provided through constant support and professional development.

Organisational, technological and educational concepts for introducing ICT into the educational and business processes of 10 % of Croatian schools (150 in total) are being piloted for a three-year period ending in 2018. The schools are being equipped with at least one ICT classroom and receive access to equipment including laptops, tablets, presentation equipment, and wired and wireless local area networks.

A computer or tablet for each teacher

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers are each provided with a hybrid computer, while teachers of other subjects are given a tablet. ICT equipment is also provided for non-teaching staff to allow them to use the online material developed within the project. Learning scenarios for ensuring creative ICT use and digital educational content for STEM subjects are being developed for use by teachers, who can also access educational and technical support.

The equipment is to be used by around 920 teachers and will make them active participants in raising their own levels of digital competence as part of their professional development. It will also raise levels of ICT use in the schools as a whole and improve the quality of the education they provide. This will in turn benefit some 6 000 students by increasing their digital competence and motivation.

Geographically, the selected schools are evenly distributed throughout the country to ensure that the impact is felt in all regions. However, the biggest improvements will be seen in communities where schools are lagging behind in terms of ICT use.

Better management and communication

Higher levels of digital competence will make school management more efficient and transparent, optimise business processes and facilitate planning. They will also make it quicker and easier for schools to communicate and exchange information both with each other, and with stakeholders such as parents, local authorities, agencies and ministries.

Based on the experience of the pilot phase, a framework and strategy will be developed for implementing the concept in around 700 primary and secondary schools (50 % of all Croatian schools) during the period 2019-22. In the longer term, the project will contribute to ensuring a more highly skilled labour force and increasing levels of employability among students, while making them better able to pursue further education and engage in lifelong learning.

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “e-Schools: Establishment of the system for the development of digitally mature schools (pilot project)” is EUR 40 000 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 25 500 000 through the “Competitiveness and Cohesion” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period, while EU’s European Social Fund is contributing EUR 8 500 000 through the “Efficient Human Resources” Operational Programme.