Education of children with special educational needs is part of the uniform educational system and a public interest activity, based on the Law on Education of Children with Special Educational Needs (2010) and its Amendments from 2017 which have set the legal framework and the obligation of additional improvement of the position and educational provision to children with special educational needs, as well as on special laws governing preschool, primary, secondary general and vocational education.
Montenegrin education system has set inclusive education within the mainstream schools as the first option and an imperative for children with special educational needs, which is reflected in the constant increase in the number of children with SEN at these institutions. Children with developmental disabilities and difficulties who cannot receive education at schools are educated at resource centres, when this is in their best interest, because of the necessary support and tight connection between education, habilitation and rehabilitation.
The objectives of education of children with special educational needs include:
- providing equal education opportunities for all children;
- providing adequate conditions that allow for the optimum development;
- timely guidance and inclusion into adequate programmes of education;
- individual approach;
- maintaining balance between physical, intellectual, emotional and social development;
- including parents in the process of habilitation, rehabilitation and education;
- continuity of programmes of education;
- coherence and complexity of education;
- organising education as close as possible to the place of residence;
- providing adequate educational technology;
- providing technical assistance for children with special educational needs.
The Strategy of Inclusive Education (2019-2025) aims to provide children with special educational needs with access to education, ensuring rationally and operationally to reach the developmental and educational achievements through personalised additional support. This general objective is operationalised through the following tasks:
- Implementing early detection, intervention, learning, development and psychological and social support for children and their parents;
- Providing children with special educational needs with access, continuity of high-quality education that will prepare them for independent life and work;
- Providing support for teaching and learning process at all levels;
- Improving basic education, specialised training and professional development of teaching and professional staff;
- Improving monitoring and evaluation of educational and developmental achievements of children.
The education system is aimed at developing democratic values and creating environment without social exclusion or other forms of discriminatory behaviour. General Law on Education (Article 9a) prescribes the prohibition of discrimination in the field of education.
The focus of working with children of Roma and Egyptian population is on their integration, improvement of their school and social achievements. The inclusion programmes for children of Roma and Egyptian population are continuously implemented at all levels of education in Montenegro.
The number of Roma and Egyptian children in primary education is increasing year in year out, and there is a positive trend when it comes to their primary school education.
Students of Roma and Egyptian population are enrolled in secondary schools where teaching is carried out in Montenegrin and other languages in the official use, typically according to the principle of affirmative action. For the enrolled secondary school students of this population, the Ministry of Education provides free textbooks in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, whereas the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights provides scholarships.
Activities related to the improvement of education of Roma and Egyptian children, as defined in the Strategy of social inclusion of Roma and Egyptians 2021-2025 are largely in the stage of implementation. The following activities have been recognised as the most important:
- Increased enrolment and reduced dropout rate at all levels of education;
- Increased enrolment rate of Roma and Egyptian children in preschool education;
- Encouraging good school performance of Roma and Egyptian children;
- Take additional measures in order to include Roma and Egyptians in the university level of education.
- Special measures aimed at reducing dropout rate;
- Raising awareness on the significance of education; inclusion of adults in the program of elementary functional literacy and basic education for adults, as well as in professional education and training programs.
At schools, all children are provided with professional support by professional associates: school counsellors, psychologists, special education teachers. Career advising is carried out by professional associates, as well as teachers. Strategic framework for career advising was provided in the Strategy for Lifelong Career Guidance in Montenegro (2016-2020) following up on the measures and activities defined in the National Strategy of Lifelong Career Guidance in Montenegro (2011-2015), and is based on the achieved level of career guidance development in Montenegro, as well as on the need to further develop and institutionally improve career guidance system by defining priorities, measures and activities required to achieve them. In accordance with the Strategy, basic objectives in the field of career guidance include:
- providing each individual, at all life stages, with information on the opportunities for learning, acquiring qualifications, employment;
- providing each individual with services of career advising and guidance, regardless of their age, gender, nationality, background, bearing in mind the needs of the individual and of society;
- providing support for employment and entrepreneurship to the young and old, as well as improvement of accountability for one’s own actions in career development in order to avoid unemployment;
- reducing time of transition from education to labour by developing career management skills.