Country information for Serbia - Systems of support and specialist provision
The participation in mainstream education of learners with special educational needs (SEN) was improved when Serbia defined its framework for inclusive education. It includes:
- the provision of additional support with changes in policies on enrolment;
- curriculum and assessment;
- human resources;
- support structures and funding arrangements.
National plan for learners with SEN
Mainstream classes in mainstream schools, special classes in mainstream schools and special schools are available for learners with SEN. As a rule, learners with disabilities attend mainstream groups and classes. They attend special education only when it is in their best interests, subject to the inter-sectorial committee’s opinion and their parents’ approval. In 2007, all schools became legally obliged to accept learners with SEN. Teachers and buildings had to improve their accessibility (OECD, 2007).
The current framework for inclusive education in Serbia includes a multi-layered system for learners with SEN and inclusive education: inter-sectorial committees, individual education plans and teams for additional learner support, school inclusive education teams and pedagogical and personal assistants.
In 2010, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, in co-operation with the World Bank and UNICEF, established a Network for Support of Inclusive Education which aimed to provide inclusive education models and capacity-building for inclusive education in pre-primary and primary education. Model inclusive schools were established in 14 locations (UNESCO Institute for Statistics and UNICEF, 2015, p. 84).
Inter-sectorial committees are established to assess additional education, health and social support needs of children and learners at municipal level. The committees include representatives from the learner’s school, the centre for social work and the healthcare institution responsible for the learner. They propose various measures to support the learners, including assistive technologies, which are expected to be funded from the municipal budget.
School inclusive education teams are expected to play an important role in identifying learners from vulnerable social groups, developing measures for implementing inclusive education, etc. School inclusive education teams support and supervise the teams for additional learner support. Their aim is to implement inclusive policies at the school level and to be responsible for the quality of inclusive education in the school and pre-primary institution.
Pedagogical assistants help to improve learners’ performance, the school climate and communication with parents. They can support teachers, pre-primary teachers and psychologists/pedagogues when working with children and learners with SEN. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development finances the work of the pedagogical assistants on the same terms as all teachers. Roma learners have their own dedicated assistants, also named Roma assistants. In 2015, 174 Roma assistants were working in Serbian schools (Friedman, E., Pavlović Babić, D. and Simić, N., 2015. Inclusive Education in Serbia: policies, practice and recommendations. Unpublished report).
Separate SEN provision
In 2015, a new curriculum policy was introduced, which includes individual education plans (IEPs) and teams for additional learner support. IEPs are highly appreciated by the diverse stakeholders. Up to two learners with SEN can attend a single class in a mainstream school. The curriculum can be partially adjusted or changed entirely for these learners. In special education schools, teaching is often individualised (Eurydice, 2016b).
Three types of IEPs can be established:
- IEP1 includes ‘adjustments in teaching methodology, characteristics and organisation of additional assistance, and compensatory activities’.
- IEP2 includes ‘the provisions of IEP1 and also arrangements for decreased learning outcomes and their specification (“modified programme”)’.
- IEP3 is used to enrich the education programme for gifted learners (Friedman et al., 2015, p. 15).
The team for additional learner support is responsible for preparing an IEP and for monitoring progress. Monitoring improvements in development and learning helps this team to establish the IEP for each learner. The team includes parents or caregivers, school and pre-primary teachers, school expert staff (psychologist, pedagogue, special pedagogue) and additional members, such as social workers or physicians (Eurydice, 2016a).
Learners can enrol in a school for the education of learners with disabilities (škola za obrazovanje učenika sa smetnjama u razvoju i invaliditetom), based on the inter-sectorial committee’s opinion and with the consent of the learner’s parent or other legal representative (Law on the Foundations of the Education System, Article 20). Learners with disabilities are nonetheless encouraged to participate in mainstream schools when possible (Eurydice, 2015).
Last updated 13/04/2018