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Croatia

Croatia

6. Education and Training

6.6 Social inclusion through education and training

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  1. Educational support
  2. Social cohesion and equal opportunities

Educational support

In Croatian education system a pupil or student with special educational needs is one with learning difficulties significantly exceeding those of his/her peers, or any particularly gifted child, continuously achieving above-average results, thus thus requiring special educational support. In the context of education system inclusiveness, special care is given to the children belonging to national minorities, especially Roma children (see Eurydice report for Croatia).

In the context of support, the Strategy of Education, Science and Technologyis focused on students with disabilities, students belonging to the Romani minority, general improvement of the social dimension of studying, ensuring institutions have minimal accessibility standards for disabled students.

On the issue of students with disabilities, the Strategy of Education, Science and Technology provides several measures pertaining to young people in the system of formal education:

  • organise a system of individual counselling of students and parents with the school psychologist, class master, teachers, and educators and, additionally, with a speech therapist, social pedagogue and/or educational rehabilitator.
  • ensure human, financial and spatial resources for a half-day school stay during which an extended professional approach is implemented.
  • establish a fair and efficient system of educational assistants.
  • design peer support groups and include them in the school (dormitory) curriculum.

The carriers of these activities, depending on individual measures, are schools, the Ministry of Science and Education, the Education and Teacher Training Agency, centres for education and care of students with disabilities, student dormitories, school founders, and units of local and regional self-administration.

Further measures have been provided to remove obstacles for students with disabilities.

  • Eliminate spatial obstacles from kindergartens, schools, and student dormitories, and equip and adapt the spaces to students with disabilities. Equip kindergartens, schools, and student dormitories with specific equipment need for appropriate participation of students with disabilities in the educational process.
  • Utilise regular education classes and homeroom classes, lectures and workshops to raise awareness in all children, students, their parents, and all employees of the kindergarten, schools, and student dormitories to the specific needs of children and students with disabilities, and to the role which the kindergarten, school, and student dormitories should play in their fulfilment.
  • Employ the necessary number (at least two) of professional associates so that every kindergarten, primary, and secondary school, and student dormitory has a professional team of at least two professional associates, one of which must be a psychologist, and the other an education-rehabilitation professional (educator, speech therapist, social pedagogue) or a pedagogue, depending on the specific needs of individual institutions. The overall number of professional associates mustn’t be lower than the number prescribed by the current National Pedagogical Standards.
  • Draw up/revise the competency framework for (1) professional associates (pedagogues, psychologists, education-rehabilitation professionals) and (2) educators and teachers, so that it contains the competencies necessary for providing different forms of support to children and students, including specific forms of support for children and students with disabilities or talented children and students.
  • Adjust (redefine) programmes of (1) initial and specialist education of professional associates, and (2) initial education of educators and teachers with the new competency framework, so that they incorporate the development of professional competencies for providing different forms of support to children and students, including specific forms of support for children and students with disabilities or talented children and students.
  • Improve the system of professional training of (1) professional associates and (2) educators and teachers, so that it incorporates programmes of developing professional competencies for providing different forms of support to children and students, including specific forms of support for children and students with disabilities or talented children and students.

The carriers of these measures are the Ministry of Science and Education, the Education and Teacher Training Agency, units of local and regional self-administration, schools, student dormitories, founders of educational institutions, the National Council on upbringing and education, professional education institutions which conduct initial and specialist education of professional associates, and professional education institutions which conduct initial education of educators and teachers.

Five measures are proposed for the better inclusion of Romani minority students, two of which relate to those who fall into the youth group.

  • Subsequent enrolment in secondary school programmes will be made possible for Romani minority students who previously left from education.
  • A curriculum for classes in Romani language and culture will be drawn up.

These measures fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Science and Education, while their implementation lies with the Ministry of Science and Education, units of local and regional self-administration, educational institutions and the Education and Teacher Training Agency.

With regard to the accessibility of institutions of higher learning to disabled students, there have also been measures proposed which aim to advance the social dimension of sub-represented groups in higher education:

  • It is necessary to identify sub-represented and vulnerable groups in higher education as well as determine which factors contribute to the poor inclusion of students from those groups.
  • Drawing up and implementing a national action plan to advance the social dimension of higher education, keeping in mind the need for coordinated measures on all levels of the education system. Developing and instituting a system of national scholarships for students of sub-represented or vulnerable groups.
  • Developing an integrated system of monitoring enrolment, dynamics and successful completion of studies for students of sub-represented or vulnerable groups.

These measures fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Science and Education and the National Council for Science and Higher Education.

In the field of higher education, there are several measures to ensure minimal accessibility standards of institutions of higher education for disabled students.

  • Ensuring a national system of financing for achieving a higher level of accessibility for disabled students.
  • Adapting application and registration procedures on institutions of higher education to disabled students. All relevant information concerning enrolment into institutions of higher education must be made equally accessible to disabled individuals.
  • Adapting classes and tests of knowledge, skills and abilities to disabled students, and providing them with an equitable method of proving that they achieved defined learning outcomes. Also, in regard to this, provide necessary education to teachers.
  • Ensuring technological support and educational assistants for disabled students.
  • Ensuring the engagement of institutional services and official bodies in support of disabled students.
  • Through ensuring spatial accessibility and universal design, make every resource intended for students available to all students, including disabled students.
  • Ensuring adapted transportation for disabled students. Every academic year, the institutional support services for disabled students attending institutions of higher education should emphasize their need for adapted transportation.
  • Systematically collect data on disabled students achieving their rights and using the support systems of the institutions of higher education with the goal of monitoring the course of their studies and improving the support system for disabled students.

The carriers of these measures are the Ministry of Science and Education, and the Agency for Science and Higher Education.

The Ministry of Science and Education awards three types of state scholarships for full-time students of higher education institutions in the Republic of Croatia: state scholarships for students in STEM area, state scholarships for students of low socio-economic status, and scholarships for special groups of students. Special groups of students are:

  • full-time students of study programmes for occupations with shortages with special emphasis on teaching study programmes with shortages;
  • full-time students with disabilities;
  • full-time students categorised as athletes with valid categorisation;
  • full-time students who had a right to social housing or organised housing as children;
  • full-time students of music or art academies in the Republic of Croatia – talented young artists;
  • full-time students who have lost both parents;
  • full-time students who are parents.

 

Social cohesion and equal opportunities

Since 2014, all primary and secondary schools have the obligation to implement an inter-subject civic education module which includes following dimensions (dimenzije građanskog odgoja I obrazovanja): social, human rights, policy, cultural, economic and ecological dimension. topics of human rights, fighting discrimination and similar. The Education and Teacher Training Agency is providing professional training for teachers in the area of civic education in order to qualify them for the inter-subject classes.

In the 2003 – 2012 period, in cooperation with UNICEF and the Education and Teacher Training Agency, a project titled Stop Violence among Children (Stop nasilju među djecom). 122 of 232 schools involved got the title ”School without violence” . The programme was devised in cooperation with local experts. A “Programme Handbook:  Prevention of peer violence. For a safe and enabling environment in schools was published in 2015 and provides a package of materials for the development of school programmes aimed at reducing violence and creating a safe and enabling environment in schools (the ‘sees’ programme).

Following its success, the project was also conducted in Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, and Slovenia. In 2012, UNICEF handed the programme over to the Ministry of Science and Education, with the goal of it being systematically incorporated into regular school programme in Croatia.

The Ministry of Science and Education grants non-refundable funds to associations for projects in the field of extra-institutional education of children and youth, inter alia for education on the rights and identity protection of national minorities, interculturalism and multiculturalism, and integration of national minorities and migrants. According to the ministerial decision (Odluka) for the school year 2019/2020 only one project was awarded a total of 132.500,00 HRK in that field.

The National Foundation for Civil Society Development invites tenders for individual priority fields, and one of them is a community school with a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech and violence (upbringing and education in human rights, non-violent conflict resolution, responsibility and active citizenship).

The Ministry of Science and Education has been presenting the Luka Ritz award, given to students involved in promoting tolerance and non-violent schools. The aim of the award is to encourage students to actively participate in building a better, fairer and more humane society.