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EACEA National Policies Platform
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

6. Education and Training

6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training (ELET)

Last update: 28 November 2023

According to the Non-attendance and dropping out of education study which was carried out for the needs of the YERP program - Youth Employment and Retention Program, and which was carried out by the Partner Marketing Consulting Agency and which is based on the results of research on children and young people who do not enrol and who drop out of primary school and high school. According to the conducted research, there are certain reasons for not attending and dropping out of school, and the most common reasons for not attending elementary school are:

  • The economic situation in which the state of BiH is located is very bad, which, consequently, is projected on some households, so that a certain number of families have a bad economic situation and, as a result, parents are not able to finance their child's education.
  • A certain number of children in BiH have difficult access to schools because they live in remote areas, isolated areas that often do not have access roads that could be used by motorized vehicles. These children must walk ten kilometres to school, through inaccessible and sometimes dangerous terrain.
  • Insufficiently developed awareness and insufficient information of parents about the need for children's education is also one of the factors that influence the fact that children are not enrolled in primary schools. This is especially present in parents with a low level of education, as well as in parents who have problems in intellectual development.
  • Children with special needs, more precisely, children who have difficulties in development or suffer from chronic diseases, represent groups of children who sometimes either do not enrol or drop out of primary education.
  • Sometimes even children who belong to the group of "returnees" do not attend school. For these children, the adequacy of the education is called into question, that is, the language in which they are educated, which is not their mother tongue.
  • Another vulnerable group of children includes children who have reached the age of 15 and have not attended primary school, because, according to the law, they are educated according to the principle of adult education. This implies taking the class outside of school.
  • The Roma population in BiH is particularly endangered. Roma children do not go to school for several reasons, most of which are listed in the previous part of the text. Roma children do not enrol in primary school, among other things, because they do not exist for the state, since they do not have a birth certificate, that is, they do not have any identification document. This often happens because their parents did not need to register them, because they themselves were not registered or were not instructed on how to register a child. Roma often moves, change their place of residence and, therefore, do not feel the need for any documents to tie them to a specific area.

Early school leaving and students with disabilities and/or special educational needs

Between 2015 and 2016, the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education implemented a project on early school leaving. The first part of the project included a literature review to gain insight into peer-reviewed research in Europe. It became apparent that there is very little literature on research in Europe. It was decided to extend the review to literature from around the world, mainly from the United States of America and Australia, where early school leaving has a longer political history and is at the centre of interest. The literature that connects early school leaving and students with disabilities and/or special educational needs (learners with disabilities and/or special educational needs, i.e., SEN) is not very extensive. However, students with special educational needs and/or disabilities are particularly exposed to the risk of early school leaving. This led to the preparation of the first project report, which briefly stated how the literature review was initiated and the main findings (European Agency, 2016).

The problem of early school leaving in BiH

Due to the constitutional arrangement of the country, there is no unified education policy in BiH, that is, there is no departmental ministry of education at the level of the entire country. Currently in BiH we have 14 educational policies that are mostly autonomous. Each level of government (state, entity, canton, district) regulates its own educational policy. When it comes to education at the state level, those under the authority of the BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs. According to legal obligations, the Ministry receives and forwards international acts related to education and refers them to lower levels of government for adoption. Due to the autonomous operation of each level, from the available data and the way of conducting education, we did not see the possibility of organizing the education systems into a single one, which will ultimately be more efficient and purposeful. According to the Framework Law on Primary and Secondary Education in BiH, Article 4 states: every child has the same right of access and equal opportunities to participate in appropriate education, without discrimination on any basis. Equal access and equal opportunities imply ensuring equal conditions and opportunities for everyone, for starting and continuing further education. Furthermore, in the same law, according to Article 16, primary education is mandatory for all children. Compulsory education begins in the calendar year in which the child reaches six years of age by April 1 and continues without interruption during a period that cannot be shorter than eight years. Competent educational authorities and schools in BiH are obliged, by June 2004 at the latest, to create all the necessary conditions for the normal start of primary school for nine years.

Mandatory education is free. Free primary education is provided to all children. Article 17 states that secondary school education is available to everyone, in accordance with the success achieved in primary school, personal interest and abilities. Secondary education in public institutions is free in accordance with the law. However, due to the complexity of the educational system in BiH, where each canton retains the right to legally regulate educational policy, we have various legal acts that classify high school education as compulsory/non-compulsory education.


Informal education in a refugee camp in BiH

The lessons that take place in the children's corner are implemented as part of wider efforts aimed at providing a sense of stability to children on the move, helping unaccompanied minors and providing psychosocial support to mothers and mothers-to-be. With the support of UNICEF, through a project financed by the European Union, World Vision BiH provides protection and access to basic social services for refugee children and migrant children in the Refugee Reception Centre Salakovac in Mostar and the Temporary Reception Centre Usivak in Sarajevo.


Formation of a multisectoral team

The first step in establishing an integrated model in the community is the formation of a multi-sectoral team to prevent early school leaving at the municipality/city level. The prerequisite for establishing a team is an already emphasized agreement in the community that the problem of early school leaving is a joint problem of various services and institutions, and not only a problem of the school. Consent must not only be declarative, "on paper", and that it is essential will be shown by local self-government units that are willing to get involved and ready to allocate certain financial resources for these purposes. Ensuring an integrated approach to the problem and a collaborative relationship at the local level to prevent early school leaving are achieved by establishing and signing appropriate protocols. The local referral mechanism/protocol defines the institutions and their powers, the way of cooperation and collection of relevant information, their exchange and the way of preventing and/or reacting in situations where there is suspicion or knowledge that a child is at risk of dropping out of education.

The protocol is the basis for coordinated, joint action of the signatory parties with the aim of continuous work on solving the problem of dropping out of education. The initiative for the adoption of the Protocol and the formation of a multisectoral team can come from any actor in the community. Due to the nature of the problem being treated, it is logical that the formation of the team should be initiated by the school or the centre for social work, but it would be best if it were done by representatives of the local self-government in charge of education. Of course, this does not mean disputing the possibility that the initiative comes from the non-governmental sector, that it is initiated by organizations that work to develop awareness of the importance of education, to improve the position and rights of children, etc. When it comes to the composition, the multisectoral team must be made up of representatives of various departments, and necessarily of the education, health and social protection sectors, school dropout prevention teams, representatives of the centre for social work from the service for children and youth, representatives of community service providers from the government and / or the non-governmental sector, whose scope of work includes childcare.

This does not exhaust the possible composition of the team, with the recommendation that the team should not be too large, on the contrary, the composition and structure of the team should be a function of its operability, efficiency and effectiveness. It is recommended that the leading people of the aforementioned departments and institutions, i.e., those who are in the position of decision makers, join the team, because this significantly increases the efficiency in work and the speed of action. Each local community can create a team structure that best suits its needs and resources. By the nature of things, the multi-sector team would necessarily have to include officials of local self-government units in charge of monitoring and improving accessibility, efficiency and quality in the field of education, representatives of all schools and the centre for social work. In order to ensure better insight and transparency, it would be desirable for representatives of parents of children who are at high risk of early school leaving to attend meetings where measures and activities are considered periodically, but other actors from the community, such as representatives of the media, who can promote activities and actions aimed at preventing early school leaving.


Institutions/organizations - holders of activities, their roles and responsibilities in the implementation of the multi-sectoral model of preventing early school leaving

The prevention of early school leaving should be seen as a long-term process that implies an integrated approach focused on prevention and intervention, which takes place in cooperation with the local self-government unit, the school and various services within the local community, primarily the centre for social work, as a basic institution of social protection, but also other services in the community that have children and their families in their scope of work. The most important thing is to ensure a collaborative relationship at the local level in order to prevent early school leaving, and this is achieved by establishing and signing appropriate protocols. The referral mechanism/protocol identifies the institutions, their competencies, the way of cooperation and collection of relevant data and other information, their exchange and the way of acting in situations where there is suspicion or knowledge that a child is at risk of leaving education. Also, it represents the basis for coordinated joint action of the signatory parties with the aim of continuous work on solving the problem of dropping out of education. Starting from the need for preventive and interventional action and from the competencies defined by the respective laws, the role of local self-government units (municipalities) is reflected in the fact that the following should be ensured:

  • Accessible education to every child in its territory through the adoption of an act on the network of preschool institutions and schools, providing transportation, in cooperation with local carriers, providing textbooks and accessories for children from families in poor financial condition, in cooperation with the school, centres for social work, the Red Cross, etc.
  • Enrolment in the preparatory preschool program and elementary school of every child who has reached the age for inclusion in education. In achieving this task, local self-government should expect help and support from: health services (physical and emotional readiness of children, health status of children and students), pedagogical assistants (work with to parents, especially of Roma nationality, about the importance of early inclusion of children in education), centre for social work (social status of parents and children and the possibility of providing support in education), the police, but also magistrates for misdemeanours (they initiate misdemeanour proceedings against parents who did not enrol their children in the preparatory preschool program and/or elementary school);
  • Quality education of children and students in institutions on their territory, which will be achieved by: electing the most relevant representatives of local self-government to the management board of the preschool institution / school board of the school, cooperation with directors and other governing bodies of the institution (school board, parents' council), ensuring material funds for maintaining hygiene in institutions and purchasing teaching and learning materials, providing funds for professional development of educators and teachers, supporting optional subjects and extracurricular activities of educational institutions, connecting schools with organizations, companies, successful entrepreneurs, etc.
  • Providing support to schools, students at risk and their parents in preventing early school leaving;
  • Regular inspection supervision in order to raise the quality of education and upbringing in institutions;
  • Acceptance and understanding of early school leaving as a problem that should be approached in a systematic way and measures should be taken to prevent this phenomenon. The first step in this process is the examination of the situation in the territory of the local government and the creation of a database, the identification of students at risk and the mapping of resources that can be used to combat the problem of early school leaving
  • The formation of a multisectoral team to prevent early school leaving at the level of the local community, made up of relevant representatives, is a key activity and responsibility of the local self-government unit / municipality;
  • Creation of an Action Plan to prevent early school leaving.


The European Commission states that of all European countries, only Croatia and BiH do not have a developed career counselling system at higher education institutions. Also, another important aspect that would enable a better transition and longer involvement in the education system is the creation of policies and measures that would enable the reintegration into education of those who left the system earlier. However, according to the data of the European Commission, this exists in all European countries and/or regions except in the case of Macedonia, Serbia, Iceland and BiH.

Youth and adult education

Youth and adult education can be formal, non-formal and informal learning. Legal provisions that entitle to continuing adult education define this area as part of a unified education system.

Adult education aims at:

  • achieving the least basic,
  • education training for the employment of adults who have not completed formal education
  • facilitating education and training, or the possibility of additional qualification, pre-qualification and continuing vocational training throughout the service and
  • enabling education and acquisition of knowledge and skills that correspond to personal abilities, affinity, and the life of an individual.

For further information, please consult the introduction articles on mentioned topics.

The first meeting of the Youth Guarantee Program working group in BiH was held

The first preparatory meeting of the Youth Guarantee Program in BiH, of which UPF BiH is a member and representative, was held on May 18, 2022.

The Youth Guarantee is a proven, inclusive and ambitious activation program used by EU Member States since 2013 to ensure a smooth transition from education to work for young people, support their integration into the labour market and ensure that no young person is left behind.

The goal of the Youth Guarantee is to reduce youth unemployment and inactivity. By implementing it, the EU member states undertake to ensure that all young people receive a quality offer for employment, continuing education, learning through work or internship within four months of entering the unemployment status or leaving, i.e. completing formal education.

At the meeting, the importance of creating a quality plan for the implementation of the Youth Guarantee program was highlighted, the key features, goals of the working group and subsequent activities were presented, as well as the agreed tasks of the working group participants and tentative dates for the next meetings.

Monitoring and evaluation of online learning

Except in the Tuzla Canton, schools in all administrative units were required to submit weekly reports to the competent Ministry of Education and/or Pedagogical Institute. A number of units stated that they hold regular meetings with school leaders (Bosnian - Podrinje Canton, West Herzegovina Canton) or that they have established mechanisms for online monitoring (Una-Sana Canton and Tuzla Canton). The Ministry of Education, Science and Youth of Sarajevo Canton has developed a somewhat different approach to monitoring. Most administrative units plan to evaluate the educational process during the suspension of teaching in schools. Brcko District and Tuzla Canton stated that they do not plan to conduct evaluations, and RS could not give an answer at this time. The most commonly provided evaluation methodology is the analysis of school reports and conducting a survey among school leaders, teaching staff, parents and students. As previously mentioned, most administrative units have not yet foreseen the evaluation of higher education.