According to the National plan for primary schools, arts education is part of obligatory curricula during all eight years of primary school – 35 hours per year (special double hour sessions); music education is obligatory during all eight years of primary school – also 35 hours per year. Looking at the total number of hours of arts education, according to selected research data, this puts Croatia among European countries with the lowest number of hours dedicated to this field (Levačić, 2017), which prompts questions on the need for change in the curriculum related to the arts.
General, linguistic and classical secondary schools (gimnazija) have one hour per week of music education, and one hour of arts education throughout the four years of education, while natural science-mathematics secondary schools have one hour per week during the first two years of education. Special natural science schools have two hours of music education per week during the fourth year and two hours of artistic education per week during the third year of study. This creates significant differences in arts and cultural education between pupils of different types of schools and potential for their unequal experience in the cultural and artistic sector and creation of cultural habits. Special arts education is carried out at national level in schools of applied arts and design, music and dance schools that have particular curricula according to their specialisation. There are private arts schools that are open to the public and which have to have a programme according to the national regulations in this field.
In the last couple of years, a number of initiatives of high school teachers in the arts highlighted the low number of hours of arts education in the curriculum (e.g. activities of art teachers within NGO OPA). In addition, The Agency for Electronic Media and The Croatian Audiovisual Centre stressed the need for development of more adequate media and film literacy programmes for both primary, but even more for secondary students and their teachers as well. However, no significant changes in measures have been made so far.
In 2013 the new programme “Backpack (full) of Culture / Ruksak (pun) kulture” was established with the aim of bringing artists and cultural events directly to kindergartens, primary and high schools as a part of additional activities. The proposed programmes should be in line with the national curricula for the suggested subjects, to complement the missing artistic and cultural content in the existing curricula. The internal evaluation showed that such programmes were necessary for kindergartens, primary and high schools, where the arts and cultural education programmes are not adequately present. The evaluation showed that this is especially relevant for those educational institutions that are in the areas with inadequate traffic and digital connectivity (e.g. the islands, mountain regions etc.) (Ministry of Culture 2020). In 2018, a special pilot programme for the islands called ‘The Island Backpack’ was created that resulted in the execution of 43 programmes and workshops on a number of Croatian islands where more than 600 children participated, while another pilot project for children of the Croatian diaspora was also tested in selected countries (Ministry of Culture 2020).