The right to education is a constitutional right for all children staying in Croatia. According to the LITP, only child applicants (i.e. those under 18) are entitled to primary and secondary education. Applicants who have begun to exercise the right to secondary education are allowed to continue secondary education even after they have turned 18.
According to the LITP, the right to primary and secondary education is granted to child applicants under the same conditions as for Croatian nationals, and children can access education within 30 days of lodging an application.
According to the Ministry of Interior, the procedure for enrolment of asylum-seeking children in pre-school, elementary or high school is performed by the employees of the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection, while for those children who are accommodated in social welfare institutions, procedure is carried out by their guardians.
Child applicants are also entitled to special assistance to learn Croatian and to make up for the knowledge they might lack in some school subjects, in the form of preparatory and supplementary classes. In November 2011, a Programme of Croatian for preparatory classes for primary and secondary school students who do not speak or speak Croatian insufficiently was adopted. This is an intensive 70-hour course of Croatian, spread over a maximum of one academic year.
AYS reported that the problems related to inclusion of children to preparatory classes persisted in 2021. According to them, in practice, organisation of preparatory classes is extremely lengthy and children often wait for months before preparatory classes are approved. Also, some children have to go to another school for preparatory classes, and as a result, they cannot attend part of classes at their own school. An additional problem reported by AYS relates to the fact that children who have not completed primary school, and are older than 15 years old, lose the right to a regular education system as legislation does not prescribe the enrolment of children over 15 years of age in primary school. Accordingly, the Ministry of Science and Education anticipates the possibility to include minors over 15 years of age who have not completed primary school in the programme of education for adults.
In 2021, Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) published the thematic report” Education of Children of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Republic of Croatia – (In) readiness for quality inclusion in the education system”. The report analyses the response of the Republic of Croatia to the needs of children, with a specific focus on access to education but also the identified difficulties and existing legislative framework. In addition, the report provides some examples good practices.
According to the Ministry of Science and Education, in order to be included to the educational system, candidates are required to have following documents: a certificate of status in the Republic of Croatia; a certificate of residence in the Republic of Croatia; an identity document (birth certificate, identity card, passport or corresponding document of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia); and a document on previous education. If they do not have a document on previous education, they need to give a statement at a public notary and then present said statement to the services of the educational institution in order for them to organize an enrolment test and determine which class the candidate can attend.
According to the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy unaccompanied children faced obstacles to accessing primary and secondary education. The problems include a lack of documentation proving these children’s previous education, acquired knowledge and skills; lengthy school enrolment processes (especially in secondary schools); too few interpreters; issues with age assessment; and local community resistance.
The ombudsperson for children reported that during 2021, most children left Reception Centres for Applicants for International Protection even though their inclusion in the education system had already begun. There are still difficulties when a child has reached the age of 15 and has not completed primary school in the country of origin or in the country of refuge. Children over the age of 15 who have not completed primary education can join the Adult Primary Education program, but in fact they lose the right to a regular education. Insufficient engagement of special guardians to initiate the process of inclusion in the education system was also reported by Ombudsperson for Children.
Beyond access to schools, several organisations provide educational activities and language classes as described in details in Conditions in Reception Facilities.
 Article 58(1) LITP.
 Article 58(3) LITP.
 Article 58(4) LITP; Article 43 Law on Education in Primary and Secondary Schools (Official Gazette 87/08, 86/09, 92/10, 90/11, 5/12, 16/12, 86/12, 126/12, 94/13).
 Information provided by Are You Syrious, 2 February 2021.
 Information provided by Centre for Peace Studies, 10 January 2022. See also: https://bit.ly/35VYJFI.
 Information provided by the Ministry of Science and Education during the webinar „The Protection of Unaccompanied Children: Procedure and Exercising Rights After the Accommodation of Children” organised by the Croatian Law Centre on 2 March 2021.
 FRA, Migration: Key fundamental rights concerns- January- June 2121, Quarterly bulletin, available at: https://bit.ly/3w1ydGj.
 Ombudsperson for Children: Report on the work of the Ombudsman for Children in 2021, available in Croatian: https://bit.ly/3Kyg3jw.