6.6 Social inclusion through education and training
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The Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia as the highest legal act in the state, in Art.44 stipulates that everyone has the right to education. Education is available for everyone, on equal terms. The state is striving to provide education for everyone equally, regardless of sex, race, color of skin, national and social background, political and religious belief, property and social status.
The legislation in the Republic of North Macedonia sets good ground for improving the social inclusion through education. Numerous processes have been started which are supposed to build strategies and establish mechanism for using the educational system in this direction.
The new Law on Primary Education (Закон за основното образование) which was adopted in July 2019 foreseen children with disability to be enrolled in regular education.
In July 2020, the Ministry of Education and Science adopted a Concept for inclusive education. The concept is a guideline for all stages of the implementation of inclusive education in the country. The Law on Primary Education stipulates that students with special needs should be included in mainstream education and that by the 2022-2023 school year, special schools will no longer enroll students. For that purpose, from November 2018 to July 2019, team from the Bureau for Development of Education conducted special trainings for primary school teachers for better inclusion of children with disabilities in primary school.
The National Strategy on Alleviation of Poverty and Social Exclusion in the Republic of Macedonia 2010-2020 is a document which reflects the intention of the country for balancing the degree of inclusion and welfare in all social levels. One of the 14 areas included in the Strategy is education. In that manner, the Strategy stressed following strategic goal: provide overall scope of pupils in elementary education, provide overall scope of students in secondary education, raise literacy level of the population, raise educational level of the population to enable education for vulnerable groups and the education system to adapt to the needs of the labor market, to strengthen the market potentials for engaging working-age population at all levels.
The following results should be achieved in order to accomplish this objective:
(1.1) All students of relevant age are enrolled in elementary school and finish elementary school;
(1.2) Curricula and textbooks are adjusted to the needs of the children with specific needs;
(1.3) The work of the teachers with children with specific needs
(2) All students enter secondary school immediately after finishing elementary school and finish secondary school;
(3) Reduced percent of illiterate population and increase real literacy by training students to read and write with comprehension;
(4) Increased percent of finished secondary school children who enter university and acquire a university degree;
(5) Provided conditions for relating secondary education and adult education to the labor market.
(6) Provided rights for all ethnic communities in an integrated educational system in order to support the development of a coherent society.
Following this national strategy (for the period 2010-2020), there is currently no publicly available information on whether a new national strategy for reducing poverty and social exclusion has been prepared.
Education Strategy for 2018-2025 and Action Plan were developed with financial and technical support of the European Union through a wide consultation and participatory process which was implemented by means of a large number of meetings, discussions, debates and conferences at different stages of the Strategy development – more precisely from identification of the challenges and priorities to formulation of the final text. Extensive support and contribution were provided by many experts, scholars and academics, public and political figures, representatives of public institutions, the civil sector and other stakeholders interested in development of human resources and education policies in the Republic of North Macedonia.
The inclusion policies of the Ministry – to cover pupils with special educational needs in the regular educational process – are based on:
• preparation of individual subject programmes;
• forming an inclusive team in secondary schools;
• equipping the expert services with pedagogists, psychologists and special educators;
• using assistive technological devices and building access ramps to the school buildings.
Pursuant a Government decision in 2015, MES via the Directorate for Development and Promotion of Education in the Languages of the Ethnic Communities started awarding scholarships for Roma students. The goal of this measure is to stimulate the Roma to enroll at universities that produce teaching staff. This measure is in line with the Action Plan for Education 2014-2020 which is part of the National Strategy on Roma Inclusion in the Republic of Macedonia (Стратегија за Ромите во Република Македонија 2014-2020).
In 2021, the consultative process for the development of a new National Strategy for Roma 2022 - 2030 was started. The guidelines for the preparation of the national strategic framework for Roma 2022-2030 define three horizontal goals:
- Prevention of anti-Gypsyism and discrimination;
- Reduction of poverty and social exclusion to close the socio-economic gap between Roma and the general population;
- Promoting participation by strengthening cooperation and trust.
Sectoral goals are also defined within the four priority areas - education, employment, health, housing and civil registration.
When it comes to inclusion of students with physical disabilities, the Action Plan of the Strategy envisages adapting the buildings of the Universities (faculties) for inclusion of students with physical disabilities. Responsible institutions for implementation of this measure according to the Action Plan are the Ministry of Education and Science and Universities, and it should be realized by the end of 2020.
According to the Report on realized activities from the Education Strategy 2018-2025 (for 2019 and 2020) 12 educational institutions (4 primary schools, 4 secondary and 4 faculties) across the country will adapt the buildings’ infrastructure for inclusion of students with physical disabilities.
The Law on Secondary Education (Закон за средното образование) includes a number of provisions regarding education for children with special needs. Provisions include: the existence of special curricula, formation of inclusive teams (consisting of pedagogue or schools’ psychologist, teacher, parent or guardian of the student for developing individual education plans) and arranging, free of charge, everyday transport to school and back, as well as, for breaks and weekends (for students residing in dormitories). The age limit for enrollment in first year of secondary education, for students with special needs is extended to 25 years of age (for regular students it is 17).
The National Youth Strategy 2016-2025, in the section: Social integration of disadvantaged groups through education and by developing working and learning conditions, under objective 9: to achieve significant inclusion and integration in the education system of children and youth with special needs, foresees the following measures:
- Train existing teaching staff and professional departments and hiring additional staff where necessary;
- Cross-institutional cooperation and coordination and cooperation with CSOs;
- Analyzing the current situation concerning the availability and application of assistive technologies;
- Needs analysis;
- Cooperation between institutions and CSOs in the implementation of projects;
- Staff training in the use of assistive technologies.
Objective 12, of the Strategy: to improve the availability of non-formal education for specific groups of children and youth, foresees the following measures regarding non-formal education:
- Establishing cooperation between CSOs and institutions;
- Needs analysis;
- Developing and implementing programmes;
- Opening education centers;
- Hiring appropriate staff
As already mentioned above, Roma population is one of the groups targeted with policies for social inclusion. Therefore there are a number of policies for social inclusion for Roma students through education and training included in official documents regarding Roma people.
Roma population is particularly affected by poverty and social exclusion influenced by a range of factors, and beside unemployment, discrimination and other issues, one of the main factor is lack or law level of education. In order to increase the rate of Roma students at Universities, the Government introduced quotas for enrollment of Roma students in higher educational institutions. This practice functions for years as an affirmative measure for easier access of the Roma students in the institutions of university education. During the academic year of 2011, for the first time the subject Romani language and culture was introduced as an elective subject at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje.
In 2017, the Minister without Portfolio in charge of the implementation of the Strategy for improving the situation of the Roma in the Republic of North Macedonia, together with the Minister of Education and Science and the founder of the Department and professor of Romany at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, discussed the initiative for introducing the Bachelor Degree Roma language, and studies for Roma teachers as a new department of the Pedagogical and Philology faculty. The initiative was launched by the Minister without Portfolio and it was positively assessed by the Minister of Education and Science, but to date it has not received its implementation.
 Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia („Official gazette of Republic of Macedonia “Nb. 49/11), Art.44, http://ustavensud.mk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Ustav-na-RM.pdf (Accessed November 22, 2018)
 National Strategy on Alleviation of Poverty and Social Exclusion in the Republic of Macedonia 2010-2020, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, revised, (Skopje, 2013), p. 28 http://mtsp.gov.mk/WBStorage/Files/revidirana_str_siromastija.pdf (Accessed November 21, 2018)
 See more National Strategy on Alleviation of Poverty and Social Exclusion in the Republic of Macedonia 2010-2020, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, revised, (Skopje, 2013), p. 29-30 http://mtsp.gov.mk/WBStorage/Files/revidirana_str_siromastija.pdf (Accessed November 21, 2018)
 Ibid, p.32
 Education Strategy for 2018-2022 and Action Plan, Ministry of Education and Science, (Skopje, 2018), p.38 http://mrk.mk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Strategija-za-obrazovanie-ENG-WEB-1.pdf (Accessed November 21, 2018)
 Education Strategy for 2018-2022 and Action Plan, Ministry of Education and Science, (Skopje, 2018), p.48 http://mrk.mk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Strategija-za-obrazovanie-ENG-WEB-1.pdf (Accessed November 21, 2018)
 See more Ibid, p.129
https://www.slobodenpecat.mk/drustvo/predlog-za-studii-po-romski-jazik/ (Accessed November 21, 2018)
The new Law on Prevention and Protection Against Discrimination (Закон за спречување и заштита од дискриминација) includes education in every provision regarding grounds for discrimination.
The Administration for Development of Education of the Languages of the Communities in collaboration with the NGO National Roma Centrum from Kumanovo and other departments in the Ministry of Education and Science, in 2010 developed a Handbook for Protection and Prevention from Discrimination in the Educational System Republic of Macedonia (Прирачник за заштита и спречување на дискриминацијата во воспитно-образовниот систем во Република Македонија). In general, the overall objective of this manual is to achieve cooperation and coordination between all institutions and individuals involved in the educational system in order to provide equal conditions and opportunities for quality education for all children regardless of religious, ethnic or any other basis and to establish a monitoring system that will allow uninterrupted and quality education for all children, through the cooperation and involvement of all stakeholders.
The National Youth Strategy 2016-2025, in the section: Social integration of disadvantaged groups through education and by developing working and learning conditions, under objective 10: to improve the support of children and youth who are neglected in terms of education and upbringing, foresees the following measures:
- Analyzing the current situation;
- Developing and implementing a programme for socially excluded children and youth;
- Monitoring and evaluating the programme for socially excluded children and youth;
- Analyzing the current situation of children and youth whose age does not correspond with the patterns of the existing education system;
- Establishing inter-institutional cooperation;
- Developing and implementing a programme for so-called ‘phantom’ children;
- Monitoring and evaluating the programme for ‘phantom’ children.