Due to a protest taking place today on Ban Jelacic square at 6 pm, public transport that usually goes on that route will be rerouted to the Central Train station in between 5 and 7:30 pm, making the center of the city traversable by foot only. Traffic is being rerouted because a really high number of people is expected. In fact, many media outlets and organizers predict this to be the biggest protest in the last 20 years.
Just Zagreb is a tourist site, and as such we stay clear of local politics, however, some context is called for, as Croatians are not known for mass protests of these proportions and public backing. Croatia is undergoing a much needed reform of the educational system, a complete overhaul in fact, a task that proved almost impossible in its earlier iterations due to lack of political will in a four year election cycle. A reform of such magnitude is, of course, a longer commitment than that and was often used as a political pressure for the next government.
The reform that is being done now has shown a lot of promise and enthusiasm in its approach to restructuring the form of education, mostly due to the fact that it is an inclusive reform, going from bottom up, engulfing teachers, parents, university professors, doctors, intellectuals…and gaining large public support from the whole spectrum of individuals, organizations, civil and interest groups. If the unions and private sector business guilds are on the same page, you know what time it is.
The lead team of experts was banded in the last electoral cycle trough a public call, and one of their main proclamations (outside of things concerning the reform itself) was that it will quit instantly if political parties try to intervene with their policies. They’ve quit last week. Without going into details of daily politics, both the conservative and liberal parties (especially the far leaning smaller ones) were trying to score cheap political points via the reform, forcing their world views, trowing in a ton of misinformation and demagogy about the whole process, or taking credit where none is due. The current conservative government is also not happy that the reform started in the last election cycle, giving, as the lead team of the reform has stated in the media, only principal support, not a real one, and forcing additional, handpicked members into the team.
Today’s protest, as the organizers say (the initiators were teacher’s unions and parent interest groups), are against any and all political interventions in the process, calling it a matter of a long term national, not particular interest.
The protests are also held in other big cities across Croatia and in front of embassies around the world.