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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.6 Social inclusion through education and training

Last update: 28 March 2024
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  1. Educational support
  2. Social cohesion and equal opportunities


Educational support

In the Croatian education system, a pupil or student with special educational needs is someone facing learning difficulties significantly exceeding those of his/her peers. This may also apply to a particularly gifted child consistently achieving above-average results. In such cases, special educational support is necessary. In the context of education system inclusiveness, special attention is devoted to the children belonging to national minorities, particularly Roma children (see Eurydice report for Croatia). 

In the context of support, the Strategy for Education, Science and Technology focuses on students with disabilities, those from the Roma minority, general improvement of the social dimension of studying, and ensuring institutions meet minimal accessibility standards for disabled students. 

Concerning students with disabilities, the Strategy for Education, Science and Technology outlines several measures about young people within the formal education system: 

  • organisation of a system for individual counselling of students and parents with the school psychologist, class master, teachers, educators, and, if necessary, speech therapists, social pedagogues, and/or educational rehabilitators
  • ensuring human, financial, and spatial resources for a half-day school stay, during which an extended expert procedure is implemented 
  • establishing a fair and efficient system for the engagement of educational assistants 
  • designing peer support groups and integrating them into the school (dormitory) curriculum

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

Additional measures have been provided to remove obstacles for students with disabilities[r1] : 

  • Eliminating spatial obstacles in kindergartens, schools, and student dormitories, and equipping and adapting the spaces for students with disabilities; equipping kindergartens, schools, and student dormitories with specific equipment necessary for the full inclusion [r2] of students with disabilities in the educational process. 
  • Utilising regular education classes, homeroom classes, lectures, and workshops to raise awareness among all children, students, their parents, and all employees in kindergartens, schools, and student dormitories about the specific needs of children and students with disabilities, as well as the role that kindergartens, schools, and student dormitories should play in meeting those needs 
  • Employing the necessary number (at least two) of professional associates to ensure that every kindergarten, primary and secondary school and student dormitory has a professional team comprising at least two members. One must be a psychologist, and the other an education-rehabilitation professional (educator, speech therapist, or social pedagogue) or a pedagogue, depending on the specific needs of each institution. The overall number of professional associates must not be lower than the number prescribed by the current National Pedagogical Standards 
  • Developing or revising the competency framework for (1) professional associates (pedagogues, psychologists, education-rehabilitation professionals) and (2) educators and teachers;  this framework should encompass the competencies necessary for providing various forms of support to children and students, including specific forms of support for those with disabilities or talented children and students
  • Adjusting (redefining) programmes for (1) initial and specialist education of professional associates and (2) initial education of educators and teachers with the new competency framework to incorporate the development of professional competencies for providing various forms of support to children and students, including specific support for those with disabilities or talented children and students
  • Improving the professional training system for (1) professional associates and (2) educators and teachers to include programmes for developing professional competencies in providing diverse forms of support to children and students, including specific support for those with disabilities or talented children and students.

The carriers of these measures are the MSE, the ETTA, units of local and regional self-administration, schools, student dormitories, founders of educational institutions, the National Council on Upbringing and Education, as well as professional education institutions that provide initial and specialist education for professional associates and initial education for educators and teachers.

Five measures are proposed for the improved inclusion of Roma minority students, with two specifically addressing individuals within the youth group: 

  • facilitating the re-enrolment of Roma minority students who had previously discontinued their education into secondary school programmes 
  • developing a curriculum for classes in the Roma language and culture

These measures fall under the jurisdiction of the MSE, with their implementation managed by the MSE, units of local and regional self-administration, educational institutions, and the ETTA. 

Regarding the accessibility of institutions of higher education to students with disabilities, proposed measures  aim to enhance the social dimension of underrepresented groups in higher education:

  • identifying underrepresented and vulnerable groups in higher education and determining factors contributing to the inadequate inclusion of students from these groups
  • developing and implementing a national action plan to advance the social dimension of higher education, considering the necessity for coordinated measures across all levels of the education system; developing and establishing a national scholarship system for students from underrepresented or vulnerable groups
  • developing an integrated system for monitoring the enrolment, dynamics, and successful completion of studies for students from underrepresented or vulnerable groups

These measures fall under the jurisdiction of the MSE and the National Council for Science, Higher Education and Technological Development.

In higher education, several measures are in place to ensure minimal accessibility standards for students with disabilities within higher education institutions.

  • ensuring a national system of financing to achieve a higher level of accessibility for disabled students
  • adapting application and registration procedures for disabled students in institutions of higher education; all relevant information regarding enrolment in institutions of higher education must be equally accessible to individuals with disabilities 
  • adapting classes and tests of knowledge, skills, and abilities to disabled students and providing them with an equitable method to demonstrate the achievement of defined learning outcomes; additionally, ensuring necessary education for teachers in this regard 
  • ensuring technological support and educational assistants for disabled students
  • ensuring the engagement of institutional services and official bodies in supporting disabled students
  • by ensuring spatial accessibility and universal design, make all resources intended for students available to everyone, including disabled students
  • ensuring adapted transportation for disabled students; each academic year, the institutional support services for disabled students attending institutions of higher education should emphasise their need for adapted transportation
  • systematically collecting data on disabled students to track the realisation of their rights and the utilisation of support systems in institutions of higher education; the aim is to monitor the progress of their studies and enhance the support system for disabled students 

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

The MSE awards three types of state scholarships for full-time students at higher education institutions in the Republic of Croatia: state scholarships for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas, state scholarships for students of low socio-economic status, and scholarships for special groups of students. Special groups of students include: 

  • 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 were eligible for social housing or organised housing during their childhood
  • full-time students of music or art academies in the Republic of Croatia, specifically 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 must implement an inter-subject civic education module. This module includes various dimensions such as social, human rights, policy, cultural, economic, and ecological aspects, covering topics like human rights, fighting discrimination, and similar subjects. The ETTA provides professional training for teachers in the field of civic education to equip them for teaching inter-subject classes. 

In the period from 2003 to 2012, in cooperation with UNICEF and the ETTA, a project Stop Violence among Children was implemented. Out of 232 schools involved, 122 received the title ’School without violence’. The programme was devised in cooperation with local experts. In 2015, a Programme Handbook: Prevention of Peer Violence ‘For a Safe and Enabling Environment in Schools was published. It offers a package of materials for the development of school programmes aimed at reducing violence and creating a safe and enabling environment in schools (SEES programme). In 2020, the Action Plan for Violence Prevention in Schools 2020-2024 was adopted by the Ministry of Science and Education (MSE). 

Following its success, the project was also implemented in Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, and Slovenia. In 2012, UNICEF transferred the programme to the MSE, aiming for its systematic integration into the regular school curriculum in Croatia.

According to the Ministerial Decision for the school year 2022/2023, a total of 133 projects were awarded with a total of €1 797 462.98. Among the awarded projects are those related to the priority area called ‘Promotion of social inclusion and preservation of national and local identity’.

The National Foundation for Civil Society Development announces tenders for various priority fields, including one focused on establishing a community school with a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech and violence. This encompasses education in human rights, non-violent conflict resolution, responsibility, and active citizenship.

The MSE has been presenting the Luka Ritz Award, recognising students involved in promoting tolerance and non-violent schools. The award aims to encourage students to actively participate in building a better, fairer, and more humane society.