Croatian presidential elections aren’t a thing we would naturally be interested in, but a large educational SNAFU made by one of the candidates provoked our attention.
In order to gather into public eye as much as possible, former Minister for Education and Sport, Mr. Dragan Primorac made a public commitment [In Croatian: PR story on campaign website] that "every Croatian student in elementary and high school would receive a laptop." He mentioned that "we already have initial fund for Croatia that is acquiring 250,000 laptops for elementary school students." This was boosted with additional 70,000 notebooks for teachers as well.
Our Bullshit Alert button went on when Mr. Primorac stated "There is no institution or a country in Europe that started such a project and thus Croatia takes the role of leading the way for Europe and the world". Given that I’ve been personally following OLPC project since Nicholas Negroponte announced a $100 dollar laptop, through subsequent statements that such a computer is impossible into a reality, powered by AMD’s Geode hardware.
And as you can figure out, everything would be candy and dandy and this promise of acquiring something to the tune of half a million laptops would be nice? if there wasn’t for one small thing. It wasn’t as true as president-hopeful hoped for.
We got contacted by Mr. Kristijan Fabina, President of OLPC Croatia who openly disputed the claims made by Mr. Primorac. "We want to inform the public to remind that during his post as Minister for Education and Sport, president candidate Mr. Primorac didn’t even want to meet with representatives from OLPC Croatia during 2007 and 2008."
Also, OLPC Croatia publicly stated that "Dragan Primorac stated that no institution or country in Europe started this project. As it stands right now, OLPC is active in more than 16 countries, including Austria, Germany, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Slovenia and may more. OLPC Croatia works with all OLPC offices in Europe and OLPC HQ from Boston. It is our opinion that a candidate for an important statesman role such as presidential one should not mislead the general public and degrade the institutional role of President of Republic of Croatia."
"We also think that the way Mr. Primorac used project OLPC is morally doubfull, given that in his former role as Minister of Education and Sport, he never gave support or interest to jump start OLPC initiative in Croatia in accordance to activities and great effort put forth by OLPC Croatia and now promotes the same project as excellent and revolutionary."
The statement finished with a damning ending: "We believe that citizens will recognize this leel of dilettantism and award presidential candidate Primorac with a result he wholeheartedly deserve since his minister role ? return to a role of a normal citizen."