The three-day event saw youth in our minority community discuss the issues of minority education in the Croatian language and learn more about the cultural and historical heritage of the local ethnic Croatian community.
The 2nd Ethnic Croatian Minority Communities Youth Forum was staged in the Hungarian village of Koljnof (Kópháza, Kohlenhof) near the city of Sopron from the 21st to 23rd of September. The event was organised by the Croatian Heritage Foundation and the Croatian Minority Self-Government body in Koljnof. The three-day event saw youth in our minority community discuss the issues of minority education in the Croatian language and learn more about the cultural and historical heritage of the local ethnic Croatian community. Taking part in the forum proceedings were young ethnic Croatians from Austria, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovenia and Montenegro, representatives of the State Office for Croats Abroad and the leadership of the Croatian Heritage Foundation led by director Mijo Marić and board of directors chairman Milan Kovač.
The participants of the forum staged in Koljnof, focused on the topic of the experience of young people in minority group education in the Croatian language, adopted the following conclusions:
- Emphasising the importance of cultural content (folklore, in-the-field instruction and the like) in strengthening linguistic competence in minority communities. Content must therefore be seen as an important means of preserving linguistic identity, and be disseminated to the greatest possible extent and be as diverse as possible.
- Croatian language instruction should be perceived in the context of underlining the importance of multilingualism, as the acquisition of important competences in a globalised society, where knowledge of the Croatian language places persons that have mastered the language in an exceptional position.
- Croatian language instruction should be an integral component of the excellence of the whole of the education institution in which Croatian is taught. It is only through this perspective that Croatian language classroom instruction can be rendered more appealing.
- The acquisition of linguistic competences in the family sphere remains important; schools, however, are assuming an ever-greater share of the burden of preserving the Croatian language and culture in the ethnic Croatian minority communities. In this process the support given by parents to schools is a critical factor. The cooperation between parents and schools must be systematically strengthened.
- Understaffing represents a major obstacle to Croatian language classroom instruction. In this regard efforts need to be made to improve the appeal of the teaching profession in Croatian minority communities, which also assumes an improvement to the economic status of teachers.
- The active participation of the Republic of Croatia is essential if the situation in this area is to be improved. In this regard the Ethnic Croatian Minority Communities Youth Forum recommends allowing students of teaching professions in Croatia to hold their internships in the ethnic Croatian minority communities and the active engagement of these students from Croatia via university and academic community projects, via European institutional support and by other similar avenues. We believe these student activities should be adequately additionally valued.
- We propose special criteria when deploying teachers to particularly threatened ethnic minority communities in terms of the number of persons receiving instruction and the administrative borders between community enclaves.
- We support the project that will see creative young ethnic Croatians from across Central Europe gather in Koljnof.
By: Marin Knezović