Varaždin County is one of 21 units of regional self-government in Croatia, located in the north-western part of the country. It has 6 cities and 22 municipalities. Varaždin County today represents an important Croatian region with intense industrial and commercial activities.
The surface of Varaždin County is 1261,29 m2 (2,23% of the total surface of the Republic of Croatia), and it has 175.951 inhabitants, which makes 4,16% of the total number of inhabitants in Croatia. A significant characteristic of Varaždin County’s geographical position is the border with the Republic of Slovenia and proximity to the borders with Austria and Hungary. It is one of the territorially smaller, but at the same time one of the most densely populated Croatian counties.
Varaždin County has a network of business zones, developed business infrastructure, financial markets and many incentive policies for investors. The economic structure of the County is dominated by textile, wood-manufacturing, metal, food and construction industries.
According to the Act on Regional and Local Self-Government, competences of counties are: education, health care, spatial planning, economic development and transport infrastructure, as well as educational, medical, social and cultural institutions. The county is responsible on a local level for the sectors: Education, Health care, Spatial planning, Economic development (incl. Support for SMEs) , Transport infrastructure, medical, and social/cultural institutions.
The county provides and co-finances transportation for high school pupils and for students, pupil and student loans and scholarships, helpers in the process of education in primary and secondary schools for pupils with special needs. It also organizes and financial support centres of excellence in mathematics, physics, chemistry, entrepreneurship, biology, Croatian language, new technology, communicology and information technology (attended by circa 750 students every year). These are aimed at achieving improved results in the national competitions and university entrance examinations.
In the framework of the aim to increase the life quality for all citizens, The county works constantly to improve technical education standards in schools (robotics/CNC machines, ICT equipment, international cooperation between schools, pupils’ cooperatives, eco-schools, institute for lifelong learning, international baccalaureate etc.)
Varaždin County has the ISO 9001:2015 certificate in the area of development of regional self-government by creating public policies.
The STAIRS (Stakeholders Together Adapting Ideas to Readjust Local Systems to Promote Inclusive Education) project is a collaborative, cross-national and cross-sectoral project, the purpose of which is to support national, regional and local stakeholders in dealing with diversity – from the so-called learning countries – in the field of education to improve their competences and make them able to design, disseminate and upscale effective strategies and processes pertinent to their specific needs to foster social inclusion in education and training through a process of learning and adapting good practices shared with them by institutions and organisations from high-achieving countries – from the so called sharing countries.
The project provides assistance for pupils with disabilities in the regular teaching process by recruiting personal assistants during tuition in regular schools. The project has been running since 2014 and has entered the 4th stage of implementation. Every year, around 60-70 students receive support from this programme in Varaždin County.
The general goal of the project: Development of innovative employment initiatives in line with the Human Resources Development Strategy of Varaždin County 2016 – 2020
Its aim is to provide elementary and high school students with additional knowledge and skills from different areas of education. There are 9 Centres of Excellence in the County: the Centre for Excellence in Mathematics, Informatics, Physics, Croatian Language, Chemistry, Entrepreneurship, Biology, the Centre for New Technologies and the Centre of Excellence for Communication. In the school year 2018/19 the centre will be attended by 829 students with 135 mentors working for them. The results of the centres are reflected through the excellent results achieved by the participants of the centres at all levels of the competition. The centres of excellence in Varaždin County have also become internationally recognized by obtaining certificates from ECHA and have become the European Talent Centre for the Republic of Croatia.
The County, as a founder of primary and secondary schools, is continuously active in the area of lifelong learning and in the following educational programs for principals and employees of primary and secondary schools:
Vocational schools founded by Varaždin County carry out continuous programs of retraining and training: