Access to education

Croatia

Country Report: Access to education Last updated: 27/05/21

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Croatian Law Centre Visit Website

According to the LITP, beneficiaries of international protection have the right to elementary, secondary and higher education under the same conditions as Croatian citizens, pursuant to separate regulations.[1]

Asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection shall exercise the right to adult education as well as the right to recognition of foreign qualifications pursuant to the regulations on adult education under the same conditions as Croatian citizens.

For asylees and foreigners under subsidiary protection, who for justified reasons are not able to provide the necessary documentation to prove their foreign qualifications, an assessment shall be conducted of their prior learning.  The assessment of the prior learning of beneficiaries of international protection shall be conducted by a competent body, pursuant to the regulations governing regulated professions and recognition of foreign vocational qualifications.

A decision to refuse an application for recognition of foreign vocational qualifications cannot be based exclusively on the fact that no official documents exist to prove a specific foreign vocational qualification.

If an asylee or foreigner under subsidiary protection does not have sufficient financial resources available, the translation of foreign documents for the purpose of recognition of foreign qualifications shall be provided from the State Budget of the Republic of Croatia, under the item of the Ministry competent for education.

AYS reported that in the course of 2020, it continued to provide educational support to children granted international protection i.e. 67 volunteers provided more than 2,200 hours of direct educational support to school aged children.[2] The support programme included support in language learning, mastering school materials, cooperation with schools and mediation in communication between parents and the school. AYS provided assistance in learning to children which partly took place online and partly in family homes, while respecting all epidemiological measures. As reported by AYS, some of the children did not have the technical conditions to follow online classes and communicate with volunteers, which presented the main challenge. Due to the COVID 19 situation and after switching to online classes, AYS purchased the necessary computers to monitor classes for some families. Within the IRCIS project, a humanitarian action to buy tablets was organised, so as to provide tablets to 30 families.[3] AYS was among the organisations that helped to create a list of needs for the mentioned action.

Centre for Peace Studies reported difficulties in the organisation of distance school, as the active role of parents was crucial for the functioning of distance learning.[4]  Children from families without access to technology, or from families in which both children and parents have weaker or no digital competencies or who do not know enough Croatian language, were completely neglected, which greatly affected the availability of education for children.

In addition, particularly vulnerable groups such as young people over the age of 15 who have not completed primary schools in the country of origin due to war circumstances (for example in Syrian) or in the country of temporary residence (for example Turkey) due to family financial situation faced important obstacles according to the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).[5] These young people do not meet the conditions for inclusion in primary education, and therefore they also do not meet the conditions for inclusion in secondary education. The State Administration Office recommends an adult educational programme for them with the aim of completing primary school. Another problem reported by JRS is that young people who were under the age of 15 at the time of enrolment in primary school, and have thus met the conditions for enrolment in regular primary education, lose the right to child allowance at the age of 15. JRS also reported that 70 + 70 hours of preparatory classes of Croatian language are not enough for most children to learn Croatian to such an extent which would allow them to follow classes and participate as children of the domicile population.

JRS also pointed to the non-standardisation of certain procedures in regard to the inclusion of refugee children in primary schools. JRS stated that there are very different methods and ways of assessing a child in order to determine the class in which the child needs to be enrolled, most often improvising, and taking into account different factors such as age, family situation, previous education and wishes of the child.

JRS also pointed out that, at the very beginning of the COVID 19 epidemiological situation, refugee children faced obstacles during the transition to online school. Given that their families are in poorer material situation, they did not have the necessary equipment to follow  online classes. While a certain number of computers were borrowed by schools, the number of computers was insufficient and children had to rely on limited resources from NGO’s donations. JRS assisted the children by donating cell phones and laptops so that children could follow online classes, but also with establishing an Internet connection and by providing translation services and daily communication between school staff and children involved in primary schools.

The Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma (RCT) reported an insufficient level of information of various stakeholders, as well as completely inadequate information about the rights of beneficiaries of international protection. Following shortcomings were identified: [6]

  • A student who was granted asylum encountered problems with a state scholarship for students of lower socio-economic status due to formal conditions he could not fulfil as a single person, i.e. he could not enclosed the income of his family;
  • the student centre, which amongst other provide food for students, does not recognise the category of beneficiaries of international protection and therefore treat students with international protection as third-country nationals. As a consequence, they only have right to 1 meal per day even if they are in the dormitory;
  • students are not entitled to free learning of the Croatian language at higher levels although for example such right to learn Croatian for free at Croaticum is guaranteed for foreign Erasmus students;
  • The Ministry of Science and Education has the financial means to recognise previous qualifications to people with granted international protection for the purpose of work or for continuing education, but according to RCT, the Ministry publishes this information exclusively on their webpage and in Croatian and does not make any effort to inform those for whom information is intended.

On the other hand, RCT stressed that in 2020, they dealt especially with access to higher education, sensitisation of higher education institutions and support in enrolment and exercising the right to scholarships. In that part, RCT observed progress as certain higher education institutions showed increased sensibility. The progress was also observed in the system of awarding state scholarships.

For students who have insufficient knowledge of the Croatian language, the school is obliged to organise preparatory classes, but according to AYS, practice has shown that the process of organising preparatory classes is extremely long and children often wait several months before such classes are approved. Also, some children have to go to another school for preparatory classes, and as a result, they are not attending part of their classes at their own school.[7]

The JRS team, together with volunteers and refugees, also created “Staze”, the first newspaper in Croatia for refugees that is written by refugees themselves. “Staze” is published in four languages: Croatian, English, Arabic and Persian/Farsi. The newspaper covers topics relevant to refugees and the challenges they face.

 

 

[1]           Article 70 LITP.

[2]        Information provided by Are you Syrious,, 2 February 2021.

[3]           Infotrmacion on IRCIS procject can be found on following link: https://bit.ly/3hzCKIw.

[4]           Information provided by the Centre For Peace studies, 22 January 2021.

[5]           Information provided by JRS, 12 January 2021.

[6]           Information provided by the Rehabilitation Centre for Stress and Trauma,7 February 2021.

[7]           Information provided by Are You Syrious, 2 February 2021.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation