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 Nataša Janevska

Regional cooperation on inclusive education has also helped to dispel the stereotypical understanding of the “inclusive school” as a school for children with special needs due to their physical disabilities, says Nataša Janevska, State Advisor at the Ministry of Education and Science in “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.

The exchange of experience and good practices in the region is an important link in the creation of inclusive education, says Nataša Janevska, State Advisor at the Ministry of Education and Science in “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. Ms Janevska is also a member of the Steering Board of the Joint EU/Coe Project “Regional Support for Inclusive Education”. For her, the networking opportunities for the 49 pilot schools from the region, chosen by the project, are an incentive for future cooperation, exchange of good practices, materials and literature, as well as the joint approach and cooperation in other projects regarding inclusive education.

“Members of these schools also had a chance to participate in study visits to other countries and to see for themselves how this process is being implemented there and to learn about new practices that could be implemented in their schools in the future”, she says.

Ms Janevska states that regional cooperation on inclusive education has had many other benefits. It helped, for instance, to dispel the stereotypical understanding of the “inclusive school” as a school for children with physical disabilities.

“Another benefit is the raised awareness for the importance of inclusive education, for the right to quality education for all, because we are all different in some way, yet when we learn we are the same, as when we are socialising and laughing. Also, I strongly believe that the pilot schools who received a grant from this project will benefit tremendously from it: from improvements to the school buildings to the purchase of new equipment, and not forgetting from the training, seminars and activities for improving inclusive practices in the schools undertaken with the help of the grants”, she says.

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

Regional cooperation has helped through the creation of a network for cooperation of the pilot schools included in the project, as well as for building trust between them, through the many joint meetings.

Which projects’ activity had the greatest impact according to you?

On the one hand, the biggest impact, in my opinion, is the realisation of the school projects from the grant facility. On the other hand, we have witnessed increased self-confidence among the teachers and students involved in the whole process.

Outside this project, how often do you have a chance to collaborate with other ministries from the region?

Working on several projects within the Ministries’ frame, I already had the opportunity to cooperate with other education ministries from the region. However, all new cooperation links established are also a new experience and they always inspire new ideas.

According to you, is there sufficient awareness of the importance of having inclusive education throughout the South East Europe region?

This process exists across the region, and all ministries are implementing this process with the same or with a slightly different approach. Although there are differences between the levels of understanding of the importance of inclusive education in the Beneficiaries in South Eastern Europe, due to the previously undertaken activities, my impression is that all countries need to work a lot more on raising awareness and on capacity building in the schools.

The first association of inclusive education is that the schools should be open to students with mental or physical handicaps, but inclusiveness is much more than just that aspect, it is making the schools open to various educational and social needs of all students.

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? 

I would point out the understanding of the inclusion as a term that refers to everyone - differences and equality, to tolerance and democracy, to stereotypes and prejudices. Inclusion also means cohesion.

If you were given a chance to change something in order for the project to be even more successful, what would it be? 

Although the project was well envisaged and included several aspects of inclusive education, besides the grants, I would make some changes and I would include some activities for which I was inspired by the project itself. For instance, connecting the activities for the teachers with their current legislation; increasing the number of workshops for more successful implementation of the pilot projects from a financial point of view; more activities that will directly enable teachers with the skills for working with students facing difficulties of various nature and capacity building of the school staff who are directly in charge of creating inclusive education environments.