The Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education has, as part of its regular activities, and supported through the Erasmus+ project European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training: National Reference Point (EQAVET NRP), held four regional teacher-training events for VET teachers and principals whose schools are currently undergoing self-assessment processes, with the purpose of supporting VET schools and Quality Committees in the implementation of the self-assessment process.
The teacher-training events were held during March 2017 in the cities of Rijeka (13th March), Zagreb (17th March), Osijek (24th March) and Split (27th March). They were intended for members of Quality Committees, with the purpose of supporting VET schools in the process of quality assurance and undertaking the process of self-assessment. The teacher-training events involved principals of VET schools, members of school quality committees, as well as coordinators for quality and self-assessment. There were around a hundred participants from around sixty VET schools. This marked the beginning of a new cycle of professional development and continuous support for VET schools in the process of self-assessment, which is planned to be continued in the coming months in order to allow all VET schools to participate.
Through these activities the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education contributes to strengthening the capacities of VET schools for implementing self-assessment processes and furthering the process of quality assurance in the VET system. The introduction of a system of quality assurance of VET in the Republic of Croatia has gained ground by adopting the VET System Development Strategy 2008-2013 and the Vocational Education and Training Act. In this way is enabled the implementation of a system of quality assurance which has been undertaken through the process of self-assessment since 2012 in VET schools. The new Strategy of Education, Science and Technology and the VET System Development Programme, which was implemented based on the Strategy, as one of the goals is defined the establishment of a coherent system of quality assurance of VET, where the Agency also has its role.
The Agency has through different initiatives on the national and international level been involved in activities whose purpose is increasing the quality of the national VET and adult education systems. Therefore, one of the initiatives in which the Agency is involved in and represents Croatia is the European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training Network (EQAVET Network) which brings together representatives of member states, social partners and the European Commission with the purpose of developing and improving quality assurance in European VET systems in the context of implementation of the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training. The Agency was also delegated the role of Croatian National Reference Point for quality assurance in VET (QAVET.HR). National Reference Points for quality assurance in VET (NRPs) have been established in accordance with the Recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on the establishment of the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training and bring together all interested stakeholders at the national and regional level in order to ensure consistent implementation of relevant initiatives of the EQAVET Network.
As National Reference Point the Agency is actively involved in the work of the Network and has applied for and been granted funds for the Erasmus+ project European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training: National Reference Point (EQAVET NRP), whose main purpose is to improve the system of quality assurance of VET at the national level through teacher-training events organized for VET schools. The project was envisioned with the purpose of strengthening the mechanisms of quality assurance of VET and the process of self-assessment within the context of the implementation of the programme of the EQAVET Network. The project defined two priorities; one is connected with strengthening cooperation between NRPs, and the other with deepening the culture of quality assurance in VET, as part of which the Agency especially directed its efforts on envisioning activities for strengthening capacities and supporting the implementation of the self-assessment process in VET schools, as well as evaluating already achieved results in the implementation of the process, in order to better define areas which still need work, with the purpose of improving the existing model of quality assurance and the self-assessment process.
Therefore, as part of teacher-training events and self-assessment workshops, VET schools were presented with topics connected with establishing the culture of quality in the VET system. The participants were presented with the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET Framework), the EQAVET Recommendation, EQAVET criteria and quality indicators, as well as recommended activities which should be undertaken by providers of VET when establishing quality assurance.
Also presented to participants of the teacher-training events were the results of the analysis of the Croatian model of quality assurance and process of self-assessment, which is undertaken by VET schools and which has been undertaken as part of the project. In this part of the workshop the participants of the teacher-training event presented their experiences in the implementation of the process of self-assessment and using the Self-Assessment Handbook and the e-Kvaliteta online tool. An especially important segment was comparing the individual experiences in the implementation of the self-assessment process in VET schools; with notable experiences presented by participants from the Vrapče Nursing School, Požega Craft School and Rijeka Medical School. The workshops were judged as very successful by the participants, especially the part related to presenting good practice examples and exchanging experiences. The teacher-training events were also opportunities for discussing the advantages and recommendations to improve the national framework of quality assurance and self-assessment as tools for quality assurance within the Croatian VET system, as well as the role of the Agency in providing support to schools in the implementation of this process.
The Agency for VET has also applied for a new Erasmus+ project European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training: National Reference Point (EQAVET NRP) as part of which further activities are planned for professional development of teachers and cooperation with other NRPs in order to continually strengthen the capacities of the Agency and the schools to implement the process of quality assurance and in this way actively contribute to the realization of goals and measures defined in the VET System Development Programme.