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EACEA National Policies Platform
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

6. Education and Training

6.6 Social inclusion through education and training

Last update: 20 December 2023

The laws at all levels of government and all levels of education, guarantee every child equal access, equal opportunity for participation in appropriate education and enjoyment of identical treatment without discrimination on any grounds, and no law contains discriminatory provisions. 

Social inclusion in FBiH is in the jurisdiction of: the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, which has several sectors that cover social inclusion according to target group or competence, and the Ministry of Education and Science that covers social inclusion in formal education through different sectors. Both ministries have lowered their responsibilities to a cantonal level.

In RS, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is in charge of social issues. The Ministry has a Department of Social, Family and Child Protection, which provides assistance in the development of policies to improve the social protection of children and youth, and support young people with disabilities for work training.

The BD Government has several departments that cover social inclusion depending on target group and field of interest, such as: Department of Displaced Persons, Refugees and HousingDepartment of Education and Department of Health and Other Services.

Educational support

Education in BiH is in accordance with ratified international conventions, it can be concluded that it provided a legal basis for the availability of education to all and on the same grounds. In accordance with the adopted laws in BiH, educational institutions at all levels of education have a responsibility to create within their environment a culture that respects human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens as enshrined in the Constitution and other documents in the field of human rights signed by BiH.

In BiH, in accordance with the Constitution, competences for education and training are at different levels of government.

At the country level:


In order to provide equal conditions regarding the quality of education in all educational institutions of the same level, relevant education authorities in BiH, in cooperation with educational institutions in BiH, have ensured in the past period equal access to all children, an approach in compliance with human rights and fundamental freedoms, i.e., equal rights and equal opportunities in education without discrimination on any grounds. 

The Framework Law on Elementary and Secondary Education in BiH of 2003 stipulates that every young person has equal rights of access to and participation in education, without discrimination on any grounds. All those who have completed a four-year high school in BiH have access to higher education Framework Law on Higher Education in BiH. 

Access to higher education provided by licensed higher education institutions in BiH will not be limited, directly or indirectly, according to any real or assumed ground such as: gender, race, sexual orientation, physical or other disability, marital status, skin colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, connection with a national community, property, birth, age or other status.

The above implies inclusion of young people with developmental difficulties into the regular education system, which fulfils their right to education under equal conditions. 

A special aspect is raising awareness of parents and children without developmental difficulties and briefing on the nature of various difficulties in development in order to remove any biases and misperceptions about disabled people. Proper information tends to avoid situations in which disabled children are inadequately treated by their peers. 

In addition, BiH society, as an open society accepting and cherishing diversity, fosters education of children starting from early childhood to accept, understand and respect the children and adults who are different from others (Eurydice Report for BiH).

A society of equal opportunities as a development direction exists to encourage the fulfilment of the principle "No one should be excluded" under the Framework for the Realization of Sustainable Development Goals in BiH in 2020

The target groups that are identified

Specific support measures providing quality education for all pupils, both those with disabilities and for gifted pupils at all levels of education is one of the most pressing issues related to inclusion in BiH.

  • Groups that are considered most vulnerable due to various forms of exclusion from education and within it, are children with special needs (physical or mental disabilities), Roma children, children of other ethnic minorities, children of returnees, socially vulnerable children, children from rural areas, children and young drug addicts, children with learning and conduct difficulties, children and young people in conflict with the law, as well as specially gifted and talented children.

  • However, children with multiple disabilities are perhaps the most vulnerable group. They are mainly referred to special purpose and social institutions. Only a small number of them attend regular schools. 

  • Excluded groups that have yet to be considered encompass abused children, children with chronic diseases, epilepsy, children with metabolic disorders, sleep and nutrition disorders. Groups that are considered most vulnerable due to various forms of exclusion from education and within it are children with special needs (physical or mental disabilities) according to the Eurydice BiH.

  • The Roma community in BiH suffers from a legacy of discrimination that has contributed to widespread poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and a lack of access to education. Currently, school attendance by Roma children is sporadic at best, according to the UNICEF BiH.

BiH create the preconditions for the implementation of the inclusion process through adequate training and support for educators, teachers, lecturers, and professors with assistance of experts (doctors, psychologists, therapists, speech therapists, etc.) for the purpose of development of individualized curricula. They also have assistance for the practical work, including the implementation of rehabilitation programs and the provision of medical examinations and assistance from the above expert and assistants/volunteers, as well as provision of additional teaching aids adapted to work with pupils with disabilities and gifted pupils. It should be noted that children and young people with special needs are increasingly acquiring education in mainstream schools according to their individual abilities and skills. 

However, because of insufficient funding for education, inadequacy of premises and equipment in many schools in BiH, insufficient number of appropriately trained teaching staff, as well as enduring negative attitudes towards inclusion of young people with special needs into the regular education system, the implementation of inclusive education in BiH has progressed relatively sluggishly. 

Moreover, the situation is unfavourable also regarding enrolment, coverage of youth, quality of education, fragmentation of higher education institutions, proliferation of private colleges and universities, education system's focus on theory, absence of a practical component in education, and education's incompatibility with the needs in the labour market. Education reforms are lagging and there is no human resources policy.

Social cohesion and equal opportunities

BiH has no competences, nor an established system of social protection or inclusion on the level of the state, nor are there regulations that define the functions and establish a framework of social protection and inclusion in BiH. 

The BiH Constitution provides that social protection and inclusion is a responsibility of the entities’ FBIH Social Inclusion Strategy 2021 -2027RS Social Inclusion Strategy 2021-2027 and BD BiH Social Inclusion Strategy.

According to the Social Inclusion Report 2020, the biggest challenge faced by young people as a vulnerable target group in BiH is unemployment, equally in urban and rural areas in BiH.

Access to education also remains limited for children with disabilities. Though pupils in some parts of the BiH benefit from mobile expert teams, programs designed to help parents and other pupils, as well as professional development programs for teachers, do not exist. Rather, the education of children with special needs is still primarily carried out in specialized institutions. This haphazard approach means that programs vary greatly in the learning outcomes they enable children with special needs to achieve. In addition, many children with physical disabilities cannot attend school or are restricted because of physical barriers to their access to school buildings according to the UNICEF BiH.