In March 2018, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed Croatian e-Schools project among top 12 projects in the world introducing ICT in education in 2017, in competition with 143 projects from 79 countries. Since 2005, the annual UNESCO award is conferred to individuals and organisations that promote innovative use of new technologies in expanding access to high quality education and lifelong learning. In particular, the 2017 competition highlighted the use of ICT in widening access to education, with particular focus on projects aimed at offering high quality education to disadvantaged social groups.
The pilot project “ e-Schools: Establishing a System for Developing Digitally Mature Schools” aims at raising and improving levels of digitalisation of primary and secondary schools in Croatiathrough piloting and evaluating the implementation of ICT in educational and business processes in 10% of Croatian schools. In 2017, project activities included the development of infrastructure and equipment procurement for schools and regional education centres and the installation of wireless networks in 145 schools. Further activities encompassed the development and the implementation of digital content repository, process informatization system, organisational analytics system, along with digital education content such as e-Reading and two massive online open courses (MOOCs). Finally, project activities involved project impact assessment and evaluation of schools’ digital maturing, as well as capacity-building workshops and webinars for teachers.
The project coordinating body is the Croatian Academic and Research Network – CARNET, with the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education as the project partner and the Ministry of Science and Education as the responsible authority for the development and maintenance of infrastructure for the introduction of new technologies in education and research system in Croatia. The pilot project value is over 40M €, with 85% of the budget co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Based on the results of the pilot project e-Schools, implemented in the period from 2015-2018, full-scale implementation of Croatian schools’ digitalisation is planned for the period from 2019-2022. The comprehensive digitalisation of Croatian schools is expected to advance efficiency and transparency in primary and secondary school management in Croatia, enhance digital competences of teachers and students and thus promote innovation in education and competitiveness of the future work force in Croatia.