A new beginning for child refugees

Inclusion of child refugees and migrants in education

Marina Knežević Barišić
Djevojcica - izbeglica ukljucena u obrazovnom programu
09 September 2019

“It’s nice in school. I like Croatian, maths, PE, English and natural science the best,” says Helal. His friends Amir Ali and Ali, who are in the second and third grade respectively, love the same subjects. They also bragged a little that they each had a crush.

When they arrive at the reception centre from school, they have access to daily learning support ensured by UNICEF, which is particularly important considering that most children are in the initial phases of learning the Croatian language.


“The children are great, they learn quickly, especially when they go to school. Other children already know how to speak Croatian and then it is all easier. … We hold ongoing activities and they learn Croatian through play and learning. You can really see progress with them,” says Nuri who has been helping children from the very beginning of the refugee and migrant crisis. Considering that his father is from Syria, Nuri knows the language that many child refugees speak, which helps a lot in making them feel safe in his company and so he can help them with learning.

Two sisters Negar and Melina have lived in the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers for quite some time. They have become accustomed to life in Croatia really well. It is still difficult for Negar to think about the journey by boat to the Greek coast: “Every second of it was horrible. I was afraid. You are looking at all those people, they are praying, I had no idea what to do. You are on a boat and you cannot do anything.”

All this is behind them now and, in order to find it easier at school, they have spent their summer learning Croatian and English.


They are well liked by their schoolmates, they have friends and the teachers try to help them. To help caregivers and teachers who work with child refugees, UNICEF and its partners have organised training sessions and materials that support them in working with children for whom Croatian is not the mother tongue.