Equitable access to quality education

Equity gaps prevent many children from receiving a quality education.

Equitable Access to Quality Education
UNICEF/I. Kapetanovic

Challenge

Despite an overall increase in preschool enrollment, large equity gaps remain.

The Roma community in Bosnia and Herzegovina suffers from a legacy of discrimination that has contributed to widespread poverty, unemployment, homelessness and a lack of access to education. Currently, school attendance by Roma children is sporadic at best. Only 1.5 percent of Roma children and two percent of the poorest children are enrolled in preschool. In primary and secondary education, while overall attendance is high, at 98 percent in primary and 92 percent in secondary, for Roma children these figures drop to 69 percent and 23 percent respectively. The rate is 27 percent for Roma boys and 18 percent for Roma girls for secondary education. No attempt has been made either to enable the teaching of Romani language or to ensure that the content of curricula addresses the needs of children belonging to national minorities. 

Access to education also remains limited for children with disabilities. Though pupils in some parts of the Bosnia and Herzegovina benefit from mobile expert teams, programmes designed to help parents and other pupils, as well as professional development programmes for teachers, do not exist. Rather, the education of children with special needs is still primarily carried out in specialized institutions. This haphazard approach means that programmes vary greatly in the learning outcomes they enable children with special needs to achieve. In addition, many children with physical disabilities cannot attend school or are restricted because of physical barriers to their access to school buildings.

Solution

To ensure the progressive realization of every child’s right to inclusive learning, UNICEF will focus on advocacy, capacity development and technical assistance in the following areas:

  • Promote inclusive early learning, through the continued expansion of preschool education programmes. The objective is to increase preschool attendance to 80 percent with at least 10 percent of Roma children enrolled by 2022.
  • Enhance inclusive education both at policy level and further institutionalization of good practices through support to model schools that include children with disabilities in regular schools and the general curriculum. In addition, UNICEF has supported the development of training modules for teachers in elementary schools to support inclusion of children with disabilities into the mainstream education process.
  • Promote peace building and social cohesion, and strengthening reconciliation at various levels, with a focus on adolescents and youth.