Religion and the Education System in Croatia: A Multiple Modernities View

  • Abstract:

    Education often serves as a battlefield for enforcing of the state oriented agenda. Because of that all countries in Europe are, in this way or another, trying to improve its education systems that should serve as a platform for creating European citizens dedicated to goals of the European project. Modernization of education systems throughout Europe is therefore set to enforcement of the civic values while the religious and its role in the education system remains contested issue. This is the case for Croatia, a country scheduled to join the EU in 2013. Official curriculums are prescribing European oriented education that will create European citizenship. But, on the other hand, a whole set of other laws and regulations, such as for example Teaching plans, are enforcing more nationally oriented agenda. Additionally, religious catechism is introduced in schools and Catholic priests sit in committees for approving the history textbooks with which they are enforcing their religious views and religion therefore has a significant position in the education Croatian pupils receive. This education is sometimes one-sided and too nationally oriented while the goal to create European citizenship clearly fails. Finally, the civil society opposes to these practices and envisages society freed from religion, at least to the extent one would be truly free to choose the level religion will be present in his/hers life. The issue this paper is addressing is therefore the notion of secular modernity in Croatia. Modernity is here analyzed through concepts of rationalization, power of humans to independently resolve their problems and secularization of the society. The questions this paper is analyzing are: what is the politics of Croatian authorities in the education system, what reception this politics receive in the society and what are the implications for the future and the common European project. The general attempt is to see how the concept of modernity is understood by the state actors (through the educational legislative) and how this concept is understood by the civil society actors (through their views) and finally, how these apparently opposed views fit into existing theories on religion such as secularization theory and a multiple modernities theory.