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Croatia: Education for better immigrant integration

Croatia has a lot of experience of the impact of immigration. Two decades ago the country experienced a huge inflow of the immigrants from neighbouring countries (over a half of a million) affected by the war. Now, immigrant numbers are much lower and these are mostly refugees from non-EU countries.

Education is a powerful resource that can benefit both immigrants and society by increasing skills, knowledge, and employment opportunities. Children of immigrants, asylum-seekers, foreigners under temporary protection and foreigners under subsidiary protection have a right to primary and secondary education. In the 2017/18 school year 43 migrant students enrolled in elementary school, seven in secondary school and four in preschool education.

The Ministry of the Interior, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Education, is working on the inclusion of immigrants through its programme of learning Croatian language, history and culture. The programme is conducted in all schools that are attended by immigrant children, including nine secondary education schools. If asylum-seekers’ children do not know or do not have a sufficient ability in the Croatian language, they attend pre-enrolment language classes in the school that they are assigned to.

Recognition of foreign qualifications for continuing education or entering the labour market is also intended to ease integration. It is carried out by the Agency for VET and Adult Education, as well as Education and Teacher Training Agency and schools. It is quite common, due to valid reasons, that refugees do not have the necessary documents to prove their skills and knowledge; assessment of their prior learning is necessary. Croatian legislation and practice recognises that lack of documents alone cannot be the only ground for refusal to recognise foreign qualifications.

Steps have also been taken towards education and professional training of teachers to help them support the learners with an immigrant background. Special attention was paid to citizenship education, projects and collaboration with non-government organisations to ensure intercultural education and for human and citizenship values.

EU funds will be used to support migrants with better services and education staff with better training, with a common goal of better and more efficient integration of migrants in Croatian society.

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ReferNet Croatia