Definition of the Target Group
At the pre-university level, the term special educational needs is used to describe children with:
- developmental disabilities (physical, intellectual, sensory, autism spectrum and combined), and
- developmental difficulties (speech and language, behaviour, learning, difficult chronic and long-term illnesses, difficulties caused by emotional, social, language and cultural deprivation).
Education of children with special educational needs is carried out at preschool institutions, institutions that provide primary, general and vocational secondary education, as well as at resource centres.
Inclusive education within the mainstream schools is set as the first option and an imperative, which is confirmed by the continuous increase of children with special educational needs at these institutions.
As a rule, school, i.e. resource centre is obliged to design an Individual Development and Education Programme (IDEP) for a child with special educational needs, within 30 days following the child’s enrolment, defining: the forms of educational work for educational fields i.e. subjects, provision of additional professional assistance, mobility between programmes, adaptation in terms of organisation, standards of knowledge, achievements and skills, testing and assessment of the child’s knowledge, achievements and progress, as well as timetable. For the purpose of preparing, applying, monitoring and adapting the programme, school or resource centre, forms a professional team composed of: teachers, professional associates from the school or resource centre, with the involvement of parents.
At preschool institutions and schools, children with special educational needs receive education by being fully included in educational groups, i.e. classes together with other children, with the possibility of having additional professional assistance, and including additional conditions and tools, in line with the educational programme.
Education of children with special educational needs according to adapted educational programme with additional professional assistance, which cannot be achieved by their full inclusion into educational groups, i.e. classes together with other students, is carried out in special groups or classes involving joint participation in extracurricular activities, i.e. attending certain subjects alongside peers from the nearest school; this implies the adapted provision of educational programme and the additional professional assistance, additional conditions and tools, technical assistance, in line with the educational programme.
General Law on Education recognises talented students as students who show particular gift, interest, curiosity and ability for thought and creative processes in certain subjects or fields, and achieve exceptional results, while having at least very good general performance grade.
Specific Measures of Support
According to the Law on Education of Children with Special Educational Needs, the premises, equipment and teaching resources of preschool institutions and schools must be adapted for children with special educational needs, in line with the educational programme. To carry out education of children with special educational needs, schools are obliged to provide adequate educational technologies, as part of additional teaching resources (bigger font, Braille alphabet, etc.). In order to provide students, i.e. children with special educational needs with adequate care, the number of students in a class has been reduced by 10%, as compared to the number established by Law.
Resource centres, at which children with special educational needs receive education according to special educational programmes, also provide assistance and support to inclusive education through: advisory and professional work, trainings of teachers and professional associates for work with children with special educational needs, use of sign language, preparation, adaptation, designing, use of special textbooks (in Braille, in Digital Accessible Information System – Daisy format) and other specialised teaching resources.
Moreover, Bureau for Education Services organises and coordinates the work of mobile teams composed of psychologists, special education teachers from mainstream schools and resource centres. The teams visit schools as support for inclusive education focusing on the preparation of Individual Development and Education Programme (IDEP), methodological guidance, adaptation of instruction, advisory and instructive work with parents, individual work with children, etc.
Kindergartens and schools prepare IDEP for each child, defining academic and developmental objectives that should be met. In the preparation of IDEP, the team defines the focus priority field, which is usually a functional or educational field. Within the educational field, teacher works on the individual programme for the subject(s), in cooperation with the professional service and parents, based on the child’s characteristics and the preserved potentials. The development of IDEP sets off from the assessment of the present level of the child (characteristics, knowledge, achievements, needs, etc.), from what he/she has adopted, what he/she can successfully and independently do within a particular field, regardless of the conditions and circumstances. The aspect of each area in which a child is successful serves as a good basis for strengthening their self-esteem and planning support for their further work. This is followed by preparing long-term and short-term plans and selecting techniques and methods for implementing the set educational standard.
For children with special educational needs, kindergartens and schools engage teaching assistants as technical support, and there are about 346 assistants in the 2020/2021 educational institutions in Montenegro. The scope of the support which teaching assistant provides under the supervision of teachers, professional service and school principal is determined by IDEP and class schedule, as it cleary defines the conditions, scope and manner of the service provision. In accordance with IDEP, one assistant is responsible for several students, making sure not to bring child into a segregation situation. The qualification required for assistants is defined at level four, sub-level one (IV1) of the National Qualification Framework, including the necessary training for work.
During the coronavirus-induced pandemic for students with special educational needs, teachers adapted and prepared individualized teaching materials in accordance with the Individual Developmental Education Program (IDEP). On the previously created school portal, the page for inclusive education http://www.skolskiportal.edu.me/Pages/Inkluzivnoobrazovanje.aspx, there are materials that are adapted to the developmental characteristics and needs of the child, which aim to serve as a model or idea for the preparation of individualized materials: by areas of development, work, subject programs.
Concerning the architectural adaptation of school premises, access for children with physical disabilities has been adapted at 107 educational institutions, including toilets at 98 institutions. 22 institutions have an elevator or a platform installed.
Scholarships for Talented Students
In accordance with the Call for Awarding Scholarships to Talented Students, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports gives scholarships to talented students of primary and secondary schools in line with the defined criteria.
For the 2020/2021 school year the numbers are as follows:
- 75 scholarships to the best high school students
- 7 scholarships for the best primary school students
- 5 scholarships for students for deficient occupations.
The Law on Vocational Education provides for the possibility of awarding scholarships for deficient qualifications to pupils of educational programs for a period of three years. The amount of the scholarship is 70 Euros, scholarships are awarded in 10 monthly installments. The criteria for awarding a scholarship is success in previous education (success in the three final grades of primary school) and success in competitions. A pupil loses a scholarship if he/she terminates his/her education, loses the status of a regular pupil or does not have exemplary conduct.
For the school year 2017/2018, in order to encourage pupils to enroll in level III educational programs that the labor market has recognized as deficient, 119 scholarships were awarded to first grade pupils who are educated for deficient qualifications.
For the 2018/2019 school year, 300 scholarships were awarded to first grade pupils of vocational and mixed schools who are educated according to educational programs lasting three years. Second-graders were awarded 117 scholarships. The Chamber of Commerce provided funding for 30 scholarships annually.
For the 2019/2020 school year, 271 scholarships were awarded to first graders. Second-grade pupils were awarded 282 scholarships, third-grade pupils 108 scholarships. The Chamber of Commerce provided funds for 30 scholarships annually.
For the school year 2020/2021, 190 scholarships were awarded to first-graders. Second-graders were awarded 256 scholarships, third-graders 277 scholarships. The Chamber of Commerce provides funding for 30 scholarships annually.
Educational programs that educate pupils who receive scholarships for deficient qualifications are three-year programs: Chef, Waiter, Car Mechanic, Hairdresser, Welder, Installer of sanitary devices, heating and air conditioning, Electrician, Baker, Seller, Installer of telecommunications systems, Confectioner, Locksmith, Auto electrician, Processor of precious metals, etc.
Fund for Quality and Talents
The Fund for Quality and Talents is a result of educational reform and a mechanism aimed at systematic and transparent rewarding of the best. The Rulebook on the criteria, method and procedure for allocating funds for improving the quality of teaching and talents lays down the criteria, method and procedure for allocating funds that a public primary or secondary education institution earns from the proceeds of property (lease), funds from selling services and products and other sources. The funds are used for improving the quality of teaching and rewarding talents. Public call for giving rewards to students and teachers is announced by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports no later than 30 September of the ongoing year.
The Public Call, which was announced in 2020, received about 1,300 applications. 221 students and 208 teachers received the award. Also, the award from the Fund was given to 90 students who won one of the first three places in the national or international competition in knowledge organized/coordinated by the Examination Center.