IslandTo comprehend an island, visit it in winter. Then, when the cold north-eastern wind, Bora, starts whirling and spinning the sea, and when experienced captains of the inland naval fleet drag their ships deep into other islands' lee side in order to reach their destinations - and still arrive behind time. Winter islands - do they actually exist?
Vladimir Skracic, Ph.D., senior lecturer at the University of Philosophy in Zadar, maintains that Croatians think of their islands like postcards. As a panorama, shot from a plane. A red sunset over the archipelago. Golden beach, golden port, golden rocks, sunny bay; paradise on earth, sunshades, luxury yacht boats. In the lee, someone 'repairs his fishnet'. Air is pervaded by the smell of a fish-grill. From the balcony, a view of the pristine sea. 'Folk serenade under the balustrade'. This is - a postcard island.
On the actual island everything is different. Sunset becomes an ordinary, sad reality. Nobody repairs his fishnet or fish-trap. There are no fish, unless it awaits the summer consumer in the deep freeze. On the waterfront, a few old men. It is cold. It is cold even inside the small kitchen. On the table, a little bit of fish stew that is left over from lunch, and piece of yesterday's bread. Gas didn't arrive from the city. Tonight we will not go outside to catch calamari. The church bell chimes, announcing Ave Maria. There's a weather forecast and then - to bed. We are on the island.
What is a Croatian island? It is a thing that is inadequately connected to the land, a place which is hard to reach and where life is lonely and difficult, poor education and of bad quality, where people die in isolation with no health care and security. The Croatian island is a place where everything is a problem: meat, bread, gas and fuel, repairing the fridge or television. It is a place where vineyards disappeared, where olive groves are abandoned, dilapidated houses, unpainted window shutters and fences, field paths in need of a haircut, the pier caved in. The island is also a place where elementary school buildings are transformed into warehouses or stores, and Culture Halls into local public houses. It is a place where ordinary things such as a haircut, a physician's examination or getting a cadastre's attestation are classified as extraordinary achievements.
With regard to the schooling on the islands, Croatia is a world phenomena, says professor Skracic. From 45 inhabited islands, as many as 31 come into the class of small islands. Upon these small islands there are 36 active schools with a total of 240 pupils, which in average is less than 7 pupils per school. The number of pupils will continue to decrease.