“To our knowledge, in Croatia, there is no system for collecting and monitoring inclusiveness indicators in the educational system. Only the number of children with difficulties included into educational institutions has been registered. There are various papers on this topic. Ongoing educational reform envisages the creation of a system for monitoring inclusiveness in schools, and we hope it will be a good start.”
The sentence quoted above already predicts that this is a less reflected problem area in Croatia at the management level, and it also indicates that the focus of the analysis is self-reliance of those working in the field. Legislation covers all segments and aspects of the education of children with developmental disabilities. Meanwhile, teachers in primary and secondary schools are under constant challenge, because they are untrained or not motivated enough to work with children with developmental difficulties. A serious obstacle is the lack or insufficiency of communication in the school-teacher-parent triangle; parents are marginalised, often not sufficiently involved in school work and decision-making regarding the upbringing of their own children, while legislation is very clear about everything.
Main Parts of the Document
The presentation of the institutional system according to international grades for each grade describes in great detail the very specific difficulties of the given institution, as already predicted above. The degrees are presented in the following three-pronged approach: Type of institution (characteristics, basic data) - Specific tasks related to inclusion - Important measures of the last 10 years - Successes and failures. This very detailed section, which deals with practical and policy aspects together, takes up half of the document.
In the part of the document where terminology is presented, we can get acquainted with the Croatian terminology used for describing headings such as integration, inclusion, equality, disability, children with disabilities, inclusive education, inclusive educational environment, special educational needs.
In presenting local stakeholders, the report covers the role of the ministry, the education authority, municipalities and local governments, and highlights the difficulties of community involvement, especially that of parents. The report includes a scale indicating the strength of the participation of professionals such as social workers, psychologists, career counsellors, police officers, etc., which is comparable to other country reports.
With regard to indicators related to the effectiveness of inclusive education, the report, as indicated in the key introductory part, confirms the need to develop appropriate monitoring systems.
The document concludes with the formulation of learning objectives and recommendations.
The Croatian education system is undergoing a transformation, focussing on various vulnerable groups of students, such as children with special educational needs, such as the Roma, and adopted children with social disadvantages. In the light of this systemic transformation, focus themes are comprehensive and sometimes extend beyond the field of education:
• inflexible and inefficient, centralised education system;
• no procedures supporting individual case management and assigning tasks to actors;
• lack of free, quality parenting programmes;
• lack of systemic prevention of peer violance;
• insufficient financial support for families at risk of living in poverty, especially single parents with SEN
• NGOs are not able to reliably provide services supporting the public care system due to insufficient support.
Within the European learning perspective, the objective of IT support and decentralisation is emphasised at the national level, and at the level of the school system, the strengthening of trust and cooperation between stakeholders and the support of participants (children, parents, institutions, partners).
The country report sets out the difficulties and challenges of working together at many levels, from parental involvement in raising their own children to cross-sectoral policy-making: “There are solutions to these problems, which are most often declarative and sporadic, without systematic and permanent solutions, and that's why it is necessary to strengthen the cooperation of social welfare institutions with the education and financial system in order to provide lasting and uniform assistance to beneficiaries (children, parents, schools and professional associates)." pp 17-18