Enhancing the capacities of policymakers for designing and implementing inclusive education policies

The Project will support and facilitate a multi-level, cross-sectorial regional network (Inclusive PolicyNet) with a constant composition, representing a broad range of stakeholders (policymakers - from education, social protection and healthcare sectors, from the central and local level; practitioners – school principals, members of school boards, representatives of education inspectorates, researchers and teacher educators, civil society representatives, parents) to exchange experience and discuss inclusive education issues, as well as common challenges and promising policy approaches or examples of good/bad practice from the European Union and the region.

Improving the enforcement mechanisms of laws and policies, financial affordability and cost-effectiveness of inclusive education, avoiding politicization of inclusive education, cooperation of education with social care systems, etc. are among the relevant issues that will be discussed by the network.

The Inclusive PolicyNet will meet twice a year and will act as an overarching platform that will bring together representatives of both the Inclusive SchoolNet and Inclusive TeacherNet and other additional stakeholders, in particular from the policy sphere.

Policy makers will be encouraged to consider incorporating inclusive education approaches into their policies and systems based on the experiences and best practices from the pilot schools.

Regional policymakers identify regional priorities

Greater parental involvement, developing a more holistic teaching approach, ensuring constant capacity building of the school and teaching staff and improved monitoring and evaluation of the inclusiveness in schools. These are some of the regional policy recommendations that the members of the PolicyNet working group on secondary education in South Eastern Europe identified as priorities on the first meeting of the group in Ljubljana, Slovenia on 16-18 October 2014.

These recommendations were extracted out of the evidence based suggestions coming from the Baseline study on inclusive policies and practices and should later on result in policy amendments.

The participants of the meeting also had the chance to get a deeper insight into Slovenia’s experience through study visits to several secondary schools in the country, so that they could see for themselves how inclusive education is put into practice, in this particular country.

Snežana Vuković, member of the Steering Board and Policy Team, from Serbia, was impressed with what she saw at the Second Gymnasium in Maribor.

The school has such a holistic approach, that the students’ orientation to high achievement does not eliminate the need for emotional and social support to young people who are separated from their families, who experience the cultural differences, and often do not speak Slovenian. Commitment is present at every step. One teacher said: We, as a community are better, because we have them!”, she says

Borislava Maksimović, Focal Point for Serbia went to the School Centre in Ljubljana where as she says saw a lot of great energy and lots of ideas.

Students recognize how the school invests in them, so they give back. They are accepted well by all with great care. Attentiveness on each step is present within the school and also with those who come as guests. The same goes probably for the children’s parents too. The motto of our Regional project reflects what can be seen in this school!”, noted Maksimović.

You can download here meeting documents:


Interview with Lulavere Behluli

It is the unexpected outcomes from the project: encouraging schools to be more open and the friendships made over borders that have surprised and delighted Lulavere Behluli, Head of Division for Special Education Needs in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Kosovo* and member of the Steering Board for the Joint EU/CoE Project “Regional Support for Inclusive Education”. But she was also fascinated by some very practical results such as schools acquiring skills in drafting and implementing of projects.

Creating inclusive practices and culture takes time. But the first steps have been made and with continuous support, the countries of South East Europe are on the right path to achieving this goal, says Lulavere Behluli, Head of Division for Special Education Needs in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Kosovo*.

For her, involvement in the Regional Support for Inclusive Education project provides an excellent opportunity for schools to familiarise themselves with the concept of inclusive education, and to create a culture of inclusion.

“Even more important is the fact that all of this comes as a result of their direct participation in practical workshops, conferences, meetings and study visits to European Union countries. Through sharing experiences and materials with other schools, the project has helped schools to be more open and to look beyond their immediate circle through various forms of cooperation that were established by the project”, she says.

What according to you is the biggest benefit of the regional cooperation on inclusive education?

There are several benefits from this project. For instance, the friendships created between members from the different Beneficiaries, the chance to learn more about the educational systems in the region and the opportunity for exchanging positive experiences among us. Also important were the lectures from various experts in the field of inclusive education which have improved awareness about the importance of promoting inclusion as a concept. For the schools, the possibility for exchanging practical experiences on inclusion is of great benefit.

Which project activity do you believe has had the greatest impact?

From all the activities that were conducted within project, I believe that the most important is the capacity building of the schools on drafting and implementing projects based on their needs. This helps them directly by increasing their capacity in the future to research, draft and implement other projects at the school level, based on their exact needs.

Outside this project, how often do you have a chance to collaborate with other ministries from the region? In your opinion, is there sufficient awareness of the importance of having inclusive education throughout the South Eastern Europe region?

We have various possibilities to cooperate within the region and this happens continuously, but I consider that this project has met its objective very well in this regard. I think that throughout South East Europe steps have been made towards creating inclusive education, but, certainly, all of us have to continue working to create inclusive practices and culture, which takes time to be achieved.

Is there any personal experience - a somewhat personal impression about the impact of the project and its general value that you can share with us? Also, if you were given a chance to change something in order for the project to be even more successful, what would it be? 

Overall I want to praise the importance of the project because it is a good opportunity to learn by exchanging experiences with others. It provides us with the opportunity to analyse and reflect on what we have created in our  ministries, how appropriate these policies are and what needs to be changed or supplemented in order for inclusion to have an easier and quicker path towards practical implementation.  Generally, I believe that the project was well designed and I would not change anything. However, I would like to point out that this field needs to continue to be supported even after the conclusion of this project.

* “This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence”