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Publisher: UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina Društvo ujedinjenih građanskih akcija “Duga” Writer: Almir Panjeta Translation into English: Glorija Alic Proof reading and editing: Edin Tuzlak Chris Hughes Christopher John Ożga Design: Jordan Studio, Sarajevo Printing house: Jordan Studio, Sarajevo Edition: 1000 copies Publisher’s address: UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina Kolodvorska 6, 71000 Sarajevo Tel/fax: +387 (0) 33 723 300 / 642 970 e-mail: Webpage:,

Foreword Every child has a story. Each child’s story is unique and invaluable. We need to hear their voices, listen to their stories and understand their meaning. Over the last decade, UNICEF has been promoting quality inclusive education in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) to meet the needs of every child, with a special focus on the most vulnerable children. UNICEF BiH has supported research, advocacy, programming and policy advice with an emphasis on a child-friendly approach. In this storybook, each of the children depicted has special needs and each and every one of them has the right to have their needs understood, acknowledged and addressed. Here, we talk about inclusion from the perspective of skills and possibilities, through human stories that illustrate what can really be achieved through inclusion. We tell ten inspiring life stories about inclusion pioneers in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH): children, teachers and parents. We also talk about inspiring people who are trying to help children to become socially included, improve their employment prospects and gain access to different social activities. These stories are told by teachers, pedagogues, and NGOs such as “NGO Duga”, which has been actively promoting inclusion in BiH schools for years. There are also stories about parents who were hesitant about inclusion at the beginning, as nobody in BiH had tried anything similar before. This book also brings to life stories of children who have now enjoyed opportunities many other children have never had before. Darko Plečić from Višegrad dreams of leaving for Mexico and working in a restaurant. Avdo Dizdarević, a child artist, plans to launch his artistic career in Sanski Most. In Sarajevo, Lana Šafranić, an elementary school graduate, hopes to enrol herself in Secondary Musical School and become a pianist. All three are great kids with special needs and, more importantly, with special skills. They managed to express themselves, a success attributable to their inclusion in regular education and to the valuable support received from their local community. These children are now well on their way to realise their dreams.


We all want our children to have equal access to quality education. We all want them to learn in an environment free of discrimination which promotes peace, tolerance and social cohesion. We hope that these real life stories will inspire you. We hope that they will inspire all of us to continue our collective efforts to create inclusive education for all children because children cannot wait – they need your help now and deserve to be top policy and programmatic priorities of the state. In the past decade, a lot of work has been done on legislation and in practice. Principles of inclusive education were first adopted at the World Conference on Special Needs Education (1994) held in Salamanca, and then reaffirmed at the Dakar Education World Forum (2000). Legal provisions at all government levels of BiH stipulate that all children should be enrolled in primary school and be educated in accordance with their needs, capacities and interests. However, many challenges and obstacles remain, and further steps are necessary in order to fully implement quality social inclusion in BiH. We hope this storybook will contribute to discussions and decision-making about the measures required to protect the rights of all children and ensure equal access to quality inclusive education.

UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina




“Društvo ujedinjenih gra|anskih akcija - Duga”

It is no longer a Matter of Whether we Need Inclusion but how to Implement it in the Best Way


“We started from scratch and we began to provide assistance. We had a difficult beginning and worked under conditions unfavourable for inclusion, in a situation where we were supposed to change what was most difficult to change: the awareness of society. After so many years of hard work and effort, I can now say that we have achieved significant success; however, there is still a lot of work to be done by us and by the whole of society in order to introduce inclusion into the schools of BiH”, recalled Anka Izetbegović, who, along with the Association of United Civil Action (Duga) that she heads, is one of the pioneers of inclusion in BiH. Anka says that the first steps to introduce inclusion started back in 2000, while work on the active involvement of children with special needs was intensified in 2001. The latter coincided with UNICEF becoming involved and thereafter the first serious programme of inclusion began in sixteen schools throughout BiH. “Since the very beginning it has been important to us that there are no barriers and that we work in the territory of both entities, as approved by all sides. I can say that we are among the very few organisations that do not have regional entity or cantonal offices but work equally everywhere, because children are the same everywhere: they have the same rights and they have to be treated equally, and this is the basis for everything”, said Anka. ...I can say that we are among the very few organisations that In fact territorial divisions have do not have regional entity or cantonal not proven to be such a proboffices but work equally everywhere, lem as the awareness of inclubecause children are the same sion, which does not differ much everywhere: they have the from one place to another. same rights and they have to be “Although everybody truly suptreated equally... ported the introduction of inclusion and in a study at the beginning more than seventy percent of teachers stated that they fully supported it, it was realistic to expect some difficulties when providing explanations for a very complex process. It is interesting to note that we had the support of parents of children with special needs, including parents of other children who in most cases did not object to it. The problem at the time was that we had a completely different system from the one we ‘brought’ from schools, so all aspects of inclusion should have been covered and all teachers trained in an appropriate manner. Yet more importantly, we had to change the common perception of children with special


needs as those who should be ‘somewhere in another school’ and to have them treated as equal members of the community. In addition, we lacked reference material and so we were trying to help teachers and all those who had been involved in the process by using handbooks, texts and exercises. We wrote some and had them printed and we had some of them translated and adapted. We also had to move the community, municipal authorities and Social Welfare Centres to perceive children with special needs in a different way”. Anka said that at the beginning there was the issue of introducing individually adapted curricula for children with special needs, whereas today, almost ten years later, such an issue is no longer imposed; Anka sees this as one of the greatest accomplishments. “Nowadays some completely different issues are raised, while inclusion is no longer in question. Today the issue of improved implementation is discussed. Parents address schools and pedagogical institutes and they request classes of good quality, classroom assistants and speech th erapists. There have been some changes, fewer as far as decision and policy makers are concerned, but the changes in the field are now go beyond the obvious and this is very important as increased demand will induce other changes. These may seem to be small steps but they are not. We have reason to be satisfied”, said Anka. Anka says that she never questioned the success of the project through which, with the support of their trainers and UNICEF, they managed to reach many communities in BiH, ranging from Bihać to Neum and from Bileća to Stolac. Anka emphasised the special success that has been achieved over the last years based on continuous work with teachers and counsellors in schools. The trainers were constantly in the field working with teachers who were given support in several segments in order to help them to approach children with special needs in the best way, since inclusion does not just mean enrolling children with special needs in mainstream schools. As stated in a publication created by Duga: “Inclusion requires flexibility in a curriculum and an approach by teachers that reflects the special sensibility to and for the various needs of students. It necessarily raises dilemmas and disagreements, because views cannot be changed overnight. It takes some time to develop a culture of acceptance, equality, social justice and respect for diversity. The teachers must acquire new skills and knowledge”. “Our goal was to show the teachers that an average grade is not the only thing that qualifies academic achievement: real academic achievement also reflects a child’s satisfaction. The teachers are gradually renouncing the view that a successful student is the one with a good average grade and it is accepted that a successful teacher is one who meets the children’s needs and this is also one


of the greatest achievements. Inclusion requires education policy establishing new ways of thinking and some progress has already been made. A child’s potential is often discussed, whereas the potential of teachers and the school to respond to all children’s needs are neglected”, said Anka. “We have offered a universal method of work throughout BiH. Our trainers were continuously in the field and worked with teachers and also counsellors from educational and pedagogic institutes who have already taken on the role of educators; they continue to educate teachers and prepare them for the inclusion process. They have taken over our part of the work, which was the ultimate goal: to continue the work within the system through a positive momentum. It is our wish to ensure equal treatment for all children and that is the segment that we can be proud of, including the fact that we have also initiated the establishment and supported the development of several parents’ associations”, said Marina Nezirović, the Duga Project Coordinator. “Based on our continuous contact with parents they started organising themselves spontaneously using our advice, experience and support. Today we have many associations of parents of children with special needs located in several towns, including an association for parents of children with autism and Down syndrome. They have become stronger and they address the authorities, while we send them information about grants, and instruct them on ways to exercise their rights. Although it was not an immediate objective, support for the establishment of associations proved to be the right thing and showed us that we had a reference of a professional association close enough to the parents so they can turn to it for assistance. Municipal supervisory boards also realised that this segment is important and that they can do much more with organised parents”, said Anka. Expressing her satisfaction as to what has been done so far Anka Izetbegović stressed, “The greatest satisfaction stems from the fact that we have proven that we can have children with special needs and potential in a joint environment. There is also the fact that many children that have been included in mainstream education through inclusion and proven to be successful students would otherwise have been neglected and marginalised if it were not for inclusion. Unfortunately this was the practice in these areas up until the eighties: they were ...the greatest satisfaction simply pushed aside and placed stems from the fact that we have in an institution far away from proven that we can have children with everything. The feeling of hapspecial needs and potential in piness because you have mana joint environment... aged to assist and change the


awareness of the environment, teachers and parents, but also your own views, is immeasurable and worth all the effort made over the last ten years”. Anka also emphasised that she and the others working in Duga have developed professionally over this period, “We have gained special experience and maturity over the years of our work. When I look back I think that we could have done some things differently with this experience, but, generally speaking, I believe that we have a successful process behind us and that we have inserted some new energy into the system. I hope that everything will continue in a positive direction and that children will never again be neglected and marginalised. Children can see now that they are not alone and that someone is working with them in their schools and their feelings are very important. Their self-esteem has been strengthened, they get support during their development and they also get the feeling that they can do many things”. Anka pointed out that, in addition to the inclusion of children with special needs into the regular process of education, the work on inclusion has also contributed towards bring people from different communities and different professions together for the first time since the nineties. “People had not com-


municated before, so we had a situation where people from Široki Brijeg and Višegrad met for the first time at our workshops; they started talking about inclusion and the links within diversity and through the support provided to children they also helped themselves and established connections. Teachers from small communities had an opportunity to gain knowledge and get recommendations on which references to use”. Although she is quite satisfied with the achievements, Anka says that she would be happier if BiH society was more engaged. “Processes such as inclusion in BiH mainly come from international organisations and then they are seen as an ‘unnecessary novelty coming from the West’. Parents often think that the support of society is automatically granted; however, over the last years we have not had a society that would automatically have a sense of solidarity. We have institutions that do not pay sufficient attention, as can be seen from a simple example: the health institutions in Sarajevo have got only two speech therapists, one in the Health Centre and one in the Clinical Centre”. Duga is currently providing assistance to children in about 30 schools in the area of Sarajevo, such as work with speech therapists, special education teachers and other experts who help them to be included in mainstream education. Sanja Matković, a speech therapist from the Association Duga is happy that she can help a large number of children through this direct fieldwork in schools. Presently she is working in two schools: Hrasnica and Čengić Vila I. “The school in the settlement of Hrasnica, which is on the outskirts of the city, has been left out of events and so we decided to include those children too. The Čengić Vila school has shown huge interest in this. Working in these schools, but also some other schools, I have learnt that it is important to include all the factors for problem resolution at the very beginning. For example, it turns out that many children with speech difficulties do not have any defects of their speech organs but cannot hear well, thus pronouncing words incorrectly. If this is identified at an early stage some action may be taken: hearing can be corrected with hearing aids or in a different way so that a child can take part in the education process without any problem”. The assistance she, along with other experts, provides through Duga is significant, yet the outcome would be greatly improved if society, the health and social protection systems were more involved. “We see this success as being even greater because it was achieved in such an environment. We can see that the situation is gradually improving and that schools are becoming more interested in speech therapists and the work of experts with children. Parents seek more rights for their children and they address the authorities through associations”, concluded Anka Izetbegović.



Jasmin Kasumovi},

a teacher from Sanski Most

Not a Single Child Should be Given-Up on


Jasmin Kasumović, a teacher of fine art from Sanski Most, based on a number of years of experience with inclusive is of the utmost education, believes that, “It is of the importance that a child utmost importance that a child never never feels feels different from other children. It is different from other children... not always easy to achieve, yet through an individual approach to every child and a lot of patience and desire it has proved to be possible”. Jasmin says that as he is a teacher of fine art he is even more familiar with the term “inclusion” than some of his colleagues, because drawing and painting are often used as forms of therapy.

“Although painting is often a part of the therapy, inclusion shows that it is an addition to the therapy, a field where children with special needs can demonstrate special progress and often be better than their peers and higher grade pupils, acting as their models. This is very important for these children as it shows them that not only can they be included in a society from which they are often excluded but also be better than many of their peers. It is a great success when a teacher, having respected the differences without any emphasis on special needs and with a curriculum designed to accommodate the needs of all the children, manages to get a single class where all the children learn, work and play together”. Jasmin perceives inclusion as sensitive work with children who need assistance within the educational process and that this work essentially requires great flexibility. Jasmin says that he has indeed managed to organise classes in a way that no one is separated, but at the same time it is not always easy to achieve. He appreciates all of the support that he has received through the project in terms of advice, but nevertheless stresses that it is most important to know how to use all of this knowledge. “There is no formula for children. They are all the same but also different in their particular ways and they require a special approach. For example, I can transfer my knowledge to my colleagues on how I managed to access a student, but it does not necessarily mean that the same approach will work for another student”, explained Kasumović. Of all the children with special needs that he has had the opportunity to meet and work with Kasumović likes to remember Arnes. Arnes was a boy who literally talked to trees in the schoolyard and refused to go into the classroom, but whom left the primary school as an excellent painter. Jasmin recalled, “I will never forget seeing the boy forced into the school by a group of children; he resisted with his arms and legs against the entrance


door. In principle the children did not mean anything bad; they said they had wanted to take him into the classroom and show him that it was not horrible at all. I told them to leave him alone and that it was not a solution to force anyone into school”. Jasmin said that he could not achieve any contact with the boy that day, but told him where the classroom was and that he could go in there whenever

Jasmin Kasumovi}

he wanted. Ten days later Arnes appeared at the door of Jasmin’s classroom holding a pencil in his right hand and a pad of drawing paper under his arm. “I told him to come in and take whatever seat he liked, but that he could also take the seat assigned to him. I went to wash my hands and returned quickly. He was standing stiff in front of an empty desk and as I noticed that the children were looking at him. I wanted to give him some space and started talking to other children about the class and so he walked away slowly. He did not show up for a while, but then he came again and sat at the teacher’s desk. He did no draw he just used to stay there when other children came from their classes. Whatever class came in they expected him to sit there”.


That was his beginning with Arnes, a boy who later turned out to be a little artistic genius; it took some time, effort and understanding to achieve that. Jasmin recounted an incredible event that took place a few years ago. “I used to put tools and materials, books and magazines with reproduction paintings next to him but he rarely touched anything. Yet over time he attended classes more and more often and in the end he used to stay there all day, just like me. He began helping me to store drawings I selected for an exhibition and then one ...we have shown that not a day he started to draw. He had a single child should be given-up pencil and blank piece of white on and that whatever a child paper and there was a text book looks like there is always hope from which he started copying that this child can be involved in a little black-and-white picture mainstream education... which was not bigger than a matchbox. It was incredible he copied the picture perfectly with such perfect precision, being very careful about the size relationship and linear perspective; it was as if he had scanned it to the piece of paper. I asked the boy who was sitting next to him if he had had anything prepared on the piece of paper, but he replied to me that he had not had it and that he had been watching the creation of the drawing from the very beginning”.

“I have never seen such a talent in the primary school. I lifted his paper showed it to other pupils and told the children that Arnes was painting better than me at the time when I had attended the school. I realised that a true artist was hidden inside him: he had an amazing ability of perception and transferring images on paper”. Jasmin says that thereafter other pupils began to respect him and pushed each other to sit next to him; he had more friends and began to spend less time on art classes and began to attend other classes. “He attended classes of fine art with his classmates and he also attended extracurriculum classes of art. He opened up to others, he started talking and I was told by other pupils that he had attended other classes regularly and he was actively involved. The school principal, pedagogue and I purchased proper artists materials from Banja Luka whenever we could. We have some of his works exhibited in the teachers’ room today”. Jasmin pointed out that this was a good example of a child being worked with slowly and jointly. In this particular case fine art was the key to the boy’s presence in other classes.


Arnes managed to finish primary school and then returned to a place in the vicinity of Prijedor, where his parents come from. Jasmin later found out that Arnes was not very successful there and therefore left school. Jasmin is planning to look for him to check on whether he is still painting and to help him to organise an exhibition in order to show him that he is an important part of society.

Jasmin Kasumovi}

“In my opinion it demonstrates that we did a good thing through inclusion and that we did as much as we could, but it also shows that only the engagement of the entire society and system may yield a complete result. We have shown that not a single child should be given-up on and that whatever a child looks like there is always hope that this child can be involved in mainstream education, regardless of his or her prospects. Things should not stop there, because I believe that children with special needs are developing into adults with special needs who also need help from society�, Jasmin concluded. Jasmin’s experience with Arnes meant a lot to him and he shares it with his colleagues and other teachers whenever he can; however, he stresses that


it does not necessarily mean that such an approach will be successful with other children. The exchange of experiences should continuous and include additional training for teachers and advisors; we should be patient with each child in order to find the best way to help him or her. “Arnes needed a lot of encouragement; currently I am teaching Avdo who is a boy in the seventh grade. He is an excellent pupil in all subjects, but extraordinary in fine art. Avdo recently received an award at the international children’s arts contest in the Czech Republic; yet his application certainly did not contain information that he is a child with special needs. Every day I find him amazing. The boy is always in his wheelchair in a half-lying posture and although it is hard for him to hold accessories he has got the will and courage. Avdo needs a lot of help with the accessories and materials and his pace of work, which is a bit slower, needs to be respected, but in the end the result is excellent and much better than in most other children. This is additional proof that children can achieve equally good results but only with adequate support. My personal view is that whoever has been deprived of something by God is also extensively awarded and it just needs to be found”, said Jasmin. Jasmin emphasises that the group of children with special needs includes refugees and displaced persons and fondly recalls a boy who arrived with his parents in Sanski Most during the conflict in Kosovo. Jasmin said that the children did not want to accept the boy, although he was a good pupil, and that it was difficult to influence their attitude. “We had to be careful not to cause any adverse reaction and additional resistance by forcing his acceptance and that is the reason why we worked slowly. When we organised a first aid competition I appointed the boy to be a team leader, so that the children had to talk to him about everything. Working with him they realised the fact that he had arrived from an environment unknown to them but that did not make him different, then they accepted him and he proved to be a real team leader. Later he studied better, he had excellent marks and in the end he returned home”, recalled Jasmin. Jasmin only mentioned a few out of a large number of examples because over the last few years he has had the opportunity to work with a large number of such children. He says that he, as a teacher of fine art, does not see inclusion as something unusual, because the principle of work in fine art is inclusive itself and based on the individual abilities of each pupil. It is not always the best works that are evaluated but also the effort and commitment of the pupil. Jasmin has noticed that some of his colleagues also want to involve children in mainstream education and to help them to see themselves as being equal to their peers.



Sanela \ozo,

a persistent mother from Mojmilo

It is Easiest to Give-up, but we have never thought about it


Sanela Đozo from Sarajevo says that the forty-eight hours of the crisis period when it was not certain whether her newborn daughter Lejla would survive were the longest hours in her life. The girl was born in the sixth month of pregnancy as a twin baby, but unfortunately the other baby did not survive. Lejla had brain damage and she was placed in an incubator; the doctors told Sanela that her chances of survival would be better after the first forty-eight hours. “I will never forget it. When those forty-eight hours passed I was told that Lejla was alive, but that she would spend a long time in the incubator. Two months later she was discharged from hospital and we took her home. During her development we noticed that she could not sit at the age when other children started sitting and she did not crawl correctly”, Sanela remembered. She said that at that time the most important thing was for her to have a healthy child, to make the therapies as successful as possible and to have her stand on her own feet. At the time she did not think about school, but she hoped that her Lejla would be able to start the first grade with all the other children. It took a lot of effort to achieve it. Sanela said that she took Lejla to several doctors and that she was prescribed a few types of therapy before her recovery slowly started.

...I did not want to give-up, I was searching for ways to make my Lejla walk and be as any other children...

“She was diagnosed with expressed spasm of the lower limb muscles. I did not want to giveup, I was searching for ways to make my Lejla walk and be as any other children. She could not walk until the age of three and the doctors recommended surgery, which, as they said, could not be performed before the age of five. It seemed to be too long for us and we did not want Lejla to wait for so long. We were looking everywhere for a doctor to do the surgery and finally we found one who agreed to do it, but he warned us of all the risks. Lejla had the surgery and after some time of intensive exercises she managed to stand up and started walking. It took a long time a lot of struggle and effort, but I cannot describe how happy we were”. While Sanela was telling us this Lejla, a pupil of the sixth grade of the primary school “Aleksa Šantić” in the Mojmilo settlement in Sarajevo, was watching television and moving back and forth into another room. It is obvious that she moves with some difficulty, but not so many as to seriously disturb her. “It was already time for school when she started walking. We were then worried how she would fit in and whether she would be able to attend school with


her peers. We went for a therapy in Fojnica and there I met a parent, a woman from Croatia, who kept telling me that Lejla had to go to a mainstream school rather than a special school. Children imitate their environment and since she imitated children around her in the mainstream school and was thus making progress I was afraid that she would not achieve the same results in a special school. Nevertheless, experts assessed that she had to go to the special school and I accepted it, because some experts worked there who could certainly help her�, said Sanela, recounting her thoughts before Lejla started school. She said that at the time when Lejla was supposed to start school she underwent intensive therapy and Sanela was advised to postpone the beginning of her education for a year, but not to give-up. The Association Duga helped her and Lejla was given assistance and support by several special education teachers, including Vasilija Veljković, a special education teacher, whose therapies she attends even today. “The support was really welcome as I could see that there were some people who cared and who could help me include Lejla into mainstream education. A year and a half earlier she had gone to a kindergarten where she was accepted remarkably well; we often went out for a walk, I took her out to have some cakes and we visited shopping centres: I did not want her to feel excluded at any moment, I did not want to move her away as some parents unfortunately


do hiding their children with special needs from the world and thus destroying their self-esteem, which we have extensively developed in Lejla. I am not an expert but I am a mother and I know that a child primarily needs love and support”, said Sanela. According to Sanela the school was difficult for Lejla at the beginning, “She found the first therapies with the special ...the peers accepted her quickly, education teacher difficult and but at the beginning she had she used to go there crying, problems moving around so they but later she loved to go and all helped her... kept asking when she would go again. Later she attended classes of a teacher named Amina, who she loved and whom accepted her. The peers accepted her quickly, but at the beginning she had problems moving around so they all helped her. I used to tell her, ‘My child, you are now going to school and you have to fight for yourself. You have to put in a lot of effort to achieve something, to become someone’. I encouraged her to be as independent as possible. I did not know how she would be accepted in that environment, but even in the first days I could see that everything would be fine and soon she had many friends”, said Sanela.

In the first two grades Lejla had very good descriptive marks and in the third and fourth grade she had very good marks. Although Sanela expected that Lejla might find the fifth grade difficult, due to classes with several teachers instead of one, Lejla positively surprised her. Sanela was proud to tell us that, “She had excellent marks in the first term of the fifth grade”, because she studied hard, and Lejla added, “It was nothing special”. “It is always more difficult for Lejla because she goes to physical therapies; she has had three surgeries and should have another one before adulthood, so it all takes time and keeps her away from studying. In addition to the therapy she is going to, she also does a lot of exercise here; during so many years I have learned a lot too so I work with her at home”, Sanela explained. Sanela has learnt a lot about other therapies that Lejla goes through in addition to the physical therapy. “When she goes to see Vasilija at Duga I always stay with her during the therapy and watch Mrs Vaska work; I try to pick up as much as possible to be able to continue doing some exercises with Lejla at home and explain things to her in a similar manner. However, the lessons are getting more difficult and there is more homework to be done, so it is becoming difficult for


me to follow it. I am so proud when I meet some of her classmates who tell me, ‘Mrs. Sanela, Lejla has got an excellent mark today!’ Every parent would be proud”. Lejla added that she preferred going to Mrs Vaska: “She explains everything to me better, I like working with her”.

According to Sanela everything seems much easier than a few years before, yet they have so many things to worry about, “Now, when she is growing older, she is much more independent in many things but I am still there for her to support her. The birth of my son, Alden, has helped a lot, because he is in the third grade of primary school and helps her a lot, but he helps me too. I used to help her more before but now I am encouraging her to do more things alone and when she ‘gets stuck’ with something she calls me and then we solve the problem together. So, I do not solve problems for her I just help her solve them, because there will come a time when she will finish school and her parents will not be there for her forever”. Sanela is fully aware of this fact. When Lejla moved to the fifth grade she also had to move to another school building, which is much farther from their home and so Sanela takes Lejla to school every day and picks her up.


“I am trained to be a hairdresser and I could find a job, but I have adjusted everything to Lejla’s needs. If I worked who would then look after her all the time? My husband works and I take her to school and pick her up and I take her to therapies, work with her at home, I am there for her all the time”. Looking back Sanela said that she was very worried about how it would all go, whether Lejla would adapt to school, but she has never thought about giving-up: “It is easiest to give-up but we have never thought about it. We have always struggled, just struggled. At the therapies in Fojnica I met other parents too and we exchanged experiences, advice ...It is easiest to give-up and encouraged each other”. but we have never thought about it. We have always struggled, just Sanela is currently bothered struggled... by the fact that due to the suspension of assistance by the Canton Lejla has not been able to go to Fojnica to take the necessary therapies for a long time. A request she filed with the Municipality of Novi Grad to receive financial support for her therapies is also uncertain: “We cannot finance it ourselves as it is expensive. We were offered co-financing of the therapies here in the Ilidža Spa, but it does not include overnights. We would need to go there every day, I would have to dress her after bathing in warm water and take her out to cold air, so we had to give-up. We filed our application and we will see how it goes. I hope we will get a positive response, because Lejla really needs it”.

Sanela says that through UNICEF project she has been provided with great assistance by the Association Duga: “We have been members of Duga for six years now and we have been provided with enormous support: they provided a speech therapist, special education teacher, psychologist and all other assistance they could provide. Duga and UNICEF were there for Lejla and other children like her when they were forgotten by the system and the state they live in”.



Avdo Dizdarevi}

A Boy from Sanski Most who wants to be a Painter


Avdo Dizdarević, a seventh grade pupil of the of the primary school “The Fifth October” in Sanski Most, has already decided that he definitely wants to be a painter and not any painter, but one of the best. Such a way of thinking was encouraged by a diploma awarded to him last year at an international artistic competition held in Poland, in which thousands of boys and girls from all over Europe participated. He is also encouraged by his teacher of fine art who says that Avdo is an extraordinary talent. Nevertheless, Avdo does not want to base his artistic fame on praise; therefore, he has prepared around ten outstanding works and he will select one to send to a competition in Macedonia. Two of his works have also been published in the calendar of the Nansen Dialogue Centre.

Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Osobine ljudskih bi}a

“I like drawing and I prefer to work with black and white drawing ink, which is what I do best at the moment. I would like to try some colours too, maybe on a painting stand, but I am currently happy working with drawing ink. I like them and other people say I am good at drawing; I don’t know if they are good or bad”, the modest boy, Avdo, told us humorously. He would not have sent his drawing to the competition, called “A Child and a Dog”, if he had not been encouraged by his teacher. “I completed the drawing


but I was not sure whether it would be well accepted. The teacher was more confident about the drawing than me and he told me to send it, no matter what will happen with it. When the diploma arrived I was so happy. The drawing was exhibited at an exhibition in Poland. I have to say that it encouraged me to start drawing even more and now, together with my teacher, I am selecting the best drawing for a competition in Macedonia”. While Avdo was telling us this his brother, Adnan, who attends the same class, brought some of Avdo’s best drawings in to show us; in fact, he brought us all the drawings, all of which were really good and it was difficult to single out the best. The dominant motifs included a leg which was given human features: knees had eyes, a nose and a mouth, while some had feet. The second motif that Avdo most often uses in his drawings is flowers. “Those are my most favourite motifs. I do not know why I always draw only those, but I get inspired and I draw”, Avdo explained. We have noticed that the drawings have a clear composition and they look mature for a pupil of the seventh grade of primary school. Avdo says that he has no models among the artists and he is still not certain when it comes to models. Sometimes he watches drawing techniques on YouTube and exchanges some ideas with friends on his Facebook profile.

Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Dje~ija igra


“I have a Facebook profile and around a hundred of friends. Those are mainly the friends I know in my ‘real life’. I am reluctant to accept as friends people I do not know, although there are some of those too. I am not avoiding discovering new friends”, Avdo told us. In addition to art, sport is also Avdo’s big love. He is a fan of Barcelona when it comes to international clubs, whereas he likes “Željo” as a local club, although he is not happy with their game, so he prefers to watch Barca. As most boys in BiH, he carefully watches the progress of Edin Džeko at his new club. “He has just arrived so he needs to adapt to the new club. I believe that he will be fine”, said Avdo, who, in addition to watching televised matches, often goes to a local playground in Zdena as well as the sports hall when there are some matches. He especially remembers a winter humanitarian indoor football tournament held in Sanski Most in December 2009. The tournament was organised by a football player in the BiH national team, Senijad Ibričić, who comes from that area and, in addition to celebrities, he also invited his colleagues: UNICEF Ambassador Edin Džeko and other members of the national team, namely Emir Spahić and Safet Nadarević, as well as many other football players. “Džeko was a big star at the time and when we saw him there we were all very happy. The hall was overcrowded but I managed to take a photo with Džeko”, Avdo told us, while his brother, Adnan, passed the photo showing joyful Avdo and his idol Džeko. “I spent days in the sport hall and watched the matches, I did not go to school for a week. Later I was pronounced to be the most regular visitor of the tournament and I was given a ball as a reward. I was also given an original kit of Senijad Ibričić. While I was being awarded the entire hall was loudly applauding to me”, Avdo remembered with a glowing face. Avdo Dizdarević, the boy from Sanski Most, had to put a lot more effort into everything that he had achieved, as mentioned above, than most of his peers and ...Avdo is positioned in his friends from class, including wheelchair in a half-lying posture his brother Adnan who is while drawing. He draws alone, two years younger. Avdo is but if he drops a pen his mother partially paralysed, he cannot or brother picks it up for him; they walk and his hands are partly pass him paper and whatever else deformed, thus it is difficult for he needs. It is similar in school him to achieve what he thinks where his teachers and friends up through his imaginative help him. Yet, the final result is his spirit. Avdo is positioned in his and he is always proud of it...


wheelchair in a half-lying posture while drawing. He draws alone, but if he drops a pen his mother or brother picks it up for him; they pass him paper and whatever else he needs. It is similar in school where his teachers and friends help him. Yet, the final result is his and he is always proud of it. His younger brother Adnan attends the same class with him. “My brother started school one year earlier and I started a year later so we can go to school together. Since that time we have been attending the same class. Adnan is always there and we help each other”, Avdo told us. Avdo is an excellent pupil and he helps his brother Adnan, whose is also a very good pupil. Avdo experiences some difficulty because he needs more time to draw something or to write an essay, but whatever he does is mostly flawless. “People at school understand me. At the beginning I had a feeling that not all the teachers had accepted me well. I think they could not believe that I could do everything equally well as all the other children, but I have proven with my work and efforts that I can do it. I have had no problem with my friends, they have accepted me and they call me to go with them to the playground. We are together all the time, we help each other, watch matches and, except for the fact that I am in a wheelchair, there is no other difference”. Avdo told us that he never wants to be treated differently from other children and that all he wants is not to be singled out. Yet, sometimes he feels sorry that society does not best

Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Pejza`


understand his needs. He is aware that he needs assistance for some things, but he does not want to be treated differently compared to his friends. Avdo told us about one of the biggest obstacles to his education, “I do not have special access to the school building for my wheelchair, although my mum asked them several times to make it for me. They said that it could not be made as it would affect the aesthetic appearance of the school. For that reason I always have one wheelchair in the school and my mum carries me up the stairs and places me into the wheelchair so I can move around”. Regardless of everything, he is happy that he has an opportunity to attend regular classes and says that he is aware of how much it has helped him to become a good pupil and, ultimately, to achieve his wish of becoming a painter. “I believe in myself, I can draw. I would like to attend art school after primary school and live like a painter one day”, Avdo told us. As inclusion is implemented mainly in primary schools in BiH, Avdo says that he and his parents are considering continuing his education in Slovenia, where his ...I believe in myself, father works. I can draw. I would like to attend art school after primary “There is also such a possibility, school and live like a painter but we will see. I heard that one day... children have special assistants helping them in their work there and a lot of attention is paid to children with special needs. I would prefer to stay here, but I will go to Slovenia if I have to”, said Avdo. In the end he gave us his e-mail address to send him some of the photos we had taken that day:



Jelena Ĺ ipka,

Advisor at the Republic Pedagogical Institute of RS

For me Inclusion is the Second Name for Love


Jelena Šipka says that it is in her nature to be unsatisfied and she always thinks that whatever she is doing can be done better, but she does not hide her view that as far as inclusion in BiH is concerned significant progress has been achieved over the past years.

“When it comes to inclusion, the atmosphere is good and I am glad because of it. I have been involved in inclusion since its first days and I have to admit that an excellent step forward has been made. A lot more can be done institutionally, for instance schools are not sufficiently equipped, but that is a general problem, yet what we have done is to change peoples awareness of it, which is the most difficult segment: to change the traditional understanding in a community where there is a firm belief that persons with special needs should be placed in some institutions. We have shown that children with special needs can equally participate in classes and people are more aware of the importance of inclusion. The issues that were raised at the beginning of the process are no longer mentioned today and I have a feeling that we are more committed to having the process of best quality, which is no longer in question”, Jelena Šipka, who is an Advisor and Inspector for Special Education and Inclusion in the Republic Pedagogical Institute of Republika Srpska told us. change the traditional understanding in a community where there is a firm belief that persons with special needs should be placed in some institutions...

Jelena is a special education teacher by profession and she says that she likes her occupation: “I worked in school for a long time and I helped children. Simply, it is the most beautiful thing. I am happy to be a special education teacher and I love my job”. Jelena Šipka has held the position of Advisor for Special Education and Inclusion since 2005. Since then she has facilitated better implementation of inclusion through the Pedagogical Institute’s system, which extends its full support to her. Before she joined the Institute Jelena had worked on UNICEF supported projects implemented by the Association Duga aimed at inclusive education in BiH. “Engaged as an expert in the field of special education I provided support throughout BiH, together with the rest of the team:pedagogues, special education teachers, speech therapists and other experts. Duga has been promoting inclusion in a high-quality manner. When I joined the Institute in 2005 I used the experience I gained in the field to introduce good solutions


into the system and I received huge support from the Institute’s management, while the Institute was supported by the Ministry. For example, currently there are fifty mobile teams consisting of experts who support children, teachers, directors and parents in order to have the process of inclusion implemented in the best possible way. Simply said, the experience from the project I had been working on previously proved to be good. The mobile teams include experts from special schools who visit schools five hours a week, depending on the needs. In addition, we have started experimental implementation of the idea that one special education teacher works five hours a week in each school in order to cover as many schools as possible and give an opportunity to all the children to get professional assistance”, said Jelena.

In addition to Duga and UNICEF, many other organisations and projects have made a great contribution to inclusion, such as Save the Children, OSCE, the Print Project, Educaid and MDM. “International organisations through local nongovernmental organisations have provided great support. I also moved from the NGO sector to the Institute and used there what I had learned. I saw some things functioning from inside and now we have a much better situation. First through Duga and later through


the Institute, I conducted many counselling sessions and training courses for teachers and parents, who can find a lot of the necessary information on the Institute’s website and they can also address me by e-mail. It has made my job a lot easier because the Republic Institute covers the whole territory of Republika Srpska and now it is easier for me to reach the farthest municipalities. I can see that teachers use websites, send e-mails, make phone calls, ask for additional advice and make proposals. If there is a need, even now I often go to schools in order to provide necessary counselling”, added Jelena. She commented that it is interesting that those schools and communities that were included in Duga’s projects or those that are still covered by them have significantly less inquiries by teachers and school principals. “It is an indicator that everything that was done has been effective, that knowledge has been successfully transferred and it is all functioning well. The other successful thing is obvious from the statistics, which indicate that last year inclusion covered 945 students with full documentation, 1,698 were being processed, whereas around 300 of them were at the same time in special departments. The number of children in the special departments has been decreasing, which indicates that there are more children in mainstream classes”, Jelena claimed. According to Jelena the atmosphere in classrooms attended by children with special needs is also good: “Teachers are more sensitised and they have the support of experts from the mobile teams and children with special needs are also assisted by pupils who are selected to be pupil-tutors. Ultimately, the entire class is their support”. As Jelena says, in the beginning things did not go smoothly and it seems that conditions and awareness did not exist in all parts of BiH: “In the first years, when I started to work on inclusion, when I came to the field and talked to teachers they often asked the question, ‘Do I have to do it?’ I explained to them that it was their legal obligation but also an obligation towards children who have the right to education. I mentioned the children’s rights to them, documents from Salamanca… Some used to say, ‘I did not learn this at the university”. We acted through the Institute. Now some modules at the School of Philosophy discuss inclusion too. I believe that it has all improved, such questions are asked more rarely and inclusion has simply become implicit. The child is in focus ...the child is in focus and and the best ways of overcoming the best ways of overcoming potential problems are sought”, said potential problems are Jelena. In spite of the good results sought... that she mentioned Jelena certainly


does not believe that the work on inclusion is complete. Inclusion is, but rather that it is a continuous process that requires constant work. “I often say that inclusion is not only a process but a pedagogical and humanistic reform movement. For me it is the other word for love. All of the effort to destroy the barriers and to seek the way of equality and diversity makes sense. We have initiated it and now we cannot and must not stop. We are satisfied, but we have to move on. Why should children with special needs be separated; they just need a little more understanding and help to do what they can and to achieve good results. I have spent my career between school and special institutions and I have had an opportunity to see a lot of human suffering and tears. No one is entitled to say, ‘It is happening to someone else’. Society should not close its eyes before it: if parents and children who are going through a difficult period remain alone then it is awful”. Jelena told us about some of her earlier experiences when a lot needed to be corrected, compared to the present time, yet the facts show that progress has been achieved: “Schools work in poor conditions, they lack didactic material and other equipment, many schools need to construct access for children with special needs and there are a lot of problems which need to be resolved within the system, but due to the budget situation we cannot influence it a lot. It is good that the things we can influence are improving, of which I


have to emphasise the changed awareness and views of people. Parents also understand better that they are a very important factor in inclusion and it may depend on them to the greatest extent. They organise associations, seek their rights, address schools and the Institute”, Jelena concluded. Jelena believes that a more innovative approach in the education process would generally improve the inclusion process. “We are only at the beginning of applying a more modern education process although many people are still using the ex cathedra and frontal form of teaching. With the improvement of the entire teaching process the inclusion process would be advanced too. I think we should renounce the traditional methods and frontal form of teaching and turn to a modern approach which gives an opportunity to all children to stand out in the fields where they excel. It is also an opportunity for children with special needs to show what they are best at and what can potentially ...we are only at the beginning of help them later to choose applying a more modern education their profession”, explained process although many people Jelena. She believes that it are still using the ex cathedra and is very important to explain frontal form of teaching. With the to everyone involved in improvement of the entire teaching the inclusion process, process the inclusion process would from teachers to school be advanced too... principals, that by no means should children be separated.

“Some teachers asked me at the beginning whether school certificates should contain information that a child has special needs. I explained that it is absolutely unacceptable and that it would amount to a serious form of segregation. Children must not feel either separated or marginalised at any moment”.



Vasilija Veljkovi},

a Special Education Teacher

Children with Special Needs Help other Children to become more Sensitive, Humane and to Develop Empathy


Vasilija Veljković says that there is no person who knows everything, but also that there is no person who does not have a skill at which he or she can be good or excel. Throughout her entire career, for more than 40 years, this Master of Pedagogical Sciences and Special Education Teacher has worked with children with special needs and she is certainly among the best people to identify and recognise fields where a child can perform best. She started to work with children at the Orphanage Bjelave in Sarajevo and later she was the Director of the Institute for Special Education and Upbringing of Children “Mjedenica” in Sarajevo, she was an Advisor for Special Education in the Federal Ministry of Education and she was one of the pioneers of inclusion in BiH in the Association Duga from the beginning of its work in 1997. She took part in the development of strategies for the education reform and was a member of a working group for inclusion.

Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Pejza`

After so many years of work, in more than twenty schools across the territory of the whole of BiH where Duga, supported by UNICEF, worked on the sensitisation of teachers, parents and local communities in order to implement inclusion as successfully as possible, and direct support to children with special needs Vasilija says that she is satisfied with what has been done so far, but that a huge


amount of work still lies ahead of all stakeholders involved in inclusion. The State only directly supported inclusion in 2003, inserting it into the Framework Law on Education. Prior to this Duga, with the support of UNICEF, MDM and some other organisations had already done a lot and they continued to work throughout the recent period. “I am sorry that the authorities did not recognise Duga as a respectable organisation and support it more. The introduction of inclusion on paper without the creation of the basic preconditions was highly frivolous of the State. We have worked for years as much as we could and wherever we could and we have done the sensitisation of the community and organised workshops with teachers and parents. Currently we are working directly with children. I visit several schools in Sarajevo and help children with learning and understanding things. In places where we are present and in some other places with more enthusiasts inclusion has been implemented and it is progressing, but unfortunately in order to expand it to a greater part of the country better involvement of the system and the community will be required”. After so many years of work on inclusion Vasilija is not fully satisfied, but nevertheless she does not conceal her ...ipak, kada vidim djecu koja pride in the part that she and Duga have played, bi da nisu uključena u redovno assisted by partners such školovanje možda bila as UNICEF, ranging from izgubljena, a koja su kroz support to teachers to their redovnu školu otkrila brojna work with children. interesovanja, neka se čak poslije osnovne osposobila za “It was difficult in the rad i samostalan život, i kada beginning and despite kroz svakodnevni rad s djecom the enormous support of utičem na njihov napredak koji teachers and most parents for inclusion we faced je itekako primijetan, onda sam, some difficulties which had jednostavno, prezadovoljna... to be overcome. Yet I am absolutely satisfied when I see the children who might have been lost if they had been not been involved in mainstream education, those who discovered numerous interests through mainstream education, some became able to work and live independently after primary school. I am very satisfied when in my everyday work I make an impact on their progress, which becomes very obvious”, said Vasilija or Mrs Vaska as she is called by the children she works with.

Vasilija says that at the beginning she was most affected by the lack of understanding, even in those communities where everybody fully supported


inclusion but did not completely understand how important and necessary the process was. “At the beginning I used to hear even the most experienced teachers say, ‘It is best for the child to attend special school’. After that it took a lot of patience to explain that inclusion is not only a legal but also a moral obligation. Nonetheless, the progress has been achieved, and those children attend mainstream schools, which was difficult to imagine before. I am working with many children who are feeling well at school, I talk to teachers and parents and I am available for them twenty-four hours a day”. Vasilija says that some teachers see inclusion as a temporary euphoria which will calm down, but she sends them the message that this is not the case and inclusive education will be even more improved and advanced in the coming years: “We helped schools, went there with special education teachers and speech therapists and provided support. Still, I ...still, I think that a lot of think that a lot of work is to be work is to be done with local done with local communities, communities, as those children as those children are a part of are a part of the community the community which needs to which needs to accept them, accept them, first as the children first as the children who attend who attend mainstream school mainstream school with with adapted curricula and then adapted curricula and then as members of the community. as members of the Generally speaking, teachers community... are not against inclusion they are just uninformed in many cases. Some are anxious about it and they simply need to be educated but also helped by being provided with assistants and expert mobile teams. Unfortunately, there are some cases where the authorities formed such teams just because it was provided for by the law, but they did not approach them seriously. It needs to be clear that mobile teams are not singing societies and there have to be people who are always ready to help children and their teachers”.

She recalled a situation in one of the primary schools where inclusion was well accepted, where the parents of a girl with special needs who was supposed to enrol there said that they were afraid of being told that she did not belong there. The parents of other children did not regret it but it seemed that something was wrong so Vasilija decided to visit the school and talk to all of the parents.


Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Ku}a

“I arrived at the school and all the parents were there, a meeting of parents was organised. Parents are really great in that school and I was pleased, but I wanted them to understand the idea of inclusion even better. I did not want to criticise them. I told them that they had prepared their children well for acceptance of diversity, which is our reality, and for that reason the children with special needs would never be ashamed. I told them that I could see that they wanted to help those children but advised them not to sympathise with them but perceive them as their own children. The atmosphere was touching, I saw some parents cry. Later they organised themselves and they were collecting money to pay for two special education teachers to help the children with special needs in that school. The children got involved at a later stage, they organised selling exhibitions and the funds raised in that way were used for the activities of children with special needs. Parents realised that it was not only their children who helped children with special needs, but also that children with special needs helped other children to become sensitive, humane and empathic. For example, there is a boy attending the school who is very liked by the children, they socialise with him, he is accepted and he is not mocked or seen as a mascot, as there were such cases, and it is one of the greatest achievements�.


Vasilija says that parents are mostly concerned with what will happen with their children after primary school, because after the sixth grade they face difficulties even in primary school due to more comprehensive lessons. Vaska explained, “Before the fifth grade, while a child is with one teacher, he or she gets used to it and we can easily help because there are not too many problems, but after that there is a problem with the children’s abilities and adapting to comprehensive lessons. I tried to initiate some reforms in the entire education system which would accommodate inclusion too, yet so far there has not been too much understanding. Western education systems often allow pupils to select cases and activities that suit them better and such a system fully accommodates inclusion, which would be practically invisible and children would not feel isolated. In a vocational school I advised the teachers and the director to accept a boy with whom I had worked in primary school. He did have difficulties with some subjects, but he was doing great in crafts and was one of the best in school!”

...there are some excellent craftsmen or painters amongst those children, some play instruments remarkably well, some of them are talented for sports but they must not be neglected and should be given a lot of attention. They need to be included in the community and made equal members and then success will be there...

She reiterated that there is not a single person who is not good at something: it just needs to be discovered. If a child walks with difficulty it does not mean that he or she cannot be an excellent mathematician; if another child speaks slowly it does not mean that he or she cannot be a musician or an artist.

“Those children need to be assisted and it takes a lot of patience, but that is the way to discover what they are good at and what suits them best and in the end which occupation they should opt for after they finish primary school to earn a living. There are some excellent craftsmen or painters amongst those children, some play instruments remarkably well, some of them are talented for sports but they must not be neglected and should be given a lot of attention. They need to be included in the community and made equal members and then success will be there!” Mrs Vaska is convinced and states that she is not going to stop working with children, regardless of her age, and that she will continue to use her knowledge and share her experience in order to have the process of inclusion in BiH more widely accepted and to prevent any child from being made to feel separate.



Lana Ĺ afrani},

Through Inclusive Education to Completion of Primary

A Girl against Time


“I have got an excellent mark in English”, said a cheerful Lana Šafranić, an eighth grade pupil of the primary school “Osman Nuri Hadžić” in Sarajevo, when she met us. The Pedagogue, Aida Omerović, added the latest excellent mark next to other marks on a sticker above a computer. We could see that she had got several excellent marks in English, but most of them were in Computer Science. There happened to be some good marks or a passing mark, but there were no fails and so Lana is mainly a very good pupil. “I like computer science. I work on a computer, I search the Internet, I have a Facebook profile and e-mail”, said Lana showing us her nicely arranged and tidy desk where she does her homework, draws and writes to improve her handwriting with Aida’s assistance. Lana suffered brain damage during birth, which resulted in disharmonious development; she speaks slowly and with difficulty. It takes a bit longer for her to say or write something, but in the end she says what she wants to say and completes the assignment she is given at school. The teachers are very supportive ...which resulted in and so sometimes she does her disharmonious development; essays at home, but written tests she speaks slowly and with difficulty. suit her most. It takes a bit longer for her to say or write something, but in the end Lana is about to finish her she says what she wants to say and primary education which she completes the assignment she is attended through regular given at school... classes. Through the huge persistence of her mother, Darija, and staff from the Association Duga Lana was enrolled in the “Osman Nuri Hadžić” Primary School in Dobrinja. There was some resistance at the beginning, some teachers were not happy to see her and another girl with special needs in the same classes as other children, while some parents were also against it. Generally speaking, the children were not against it, but it was hard for them to get used to the fact that Lana speaks a bit slower, so they were slow in accepting her. In the end Lana started school and the teachers accepted her with the assistance of the Special Education Teacher, Vasilija Veljkovic from the Duga Association. Duga, with the support of UNICEF, has been working on the promotion of inclusion in BiH for the last ten years. With the assistance of her mum, grandma and Aida the Pedagogue she managed to prove that she can be involved in mainstream education.

“Duga helped me a lot. I had the greatest help from Vaska, who is still helping me with mathematics. Aida is helping me with everything else and I like


working with her. It is nice: we study, read and write and when we get tired we listen to music”, said Lana. With an adapted curricula Lana managed to achieve great progress, which is obvious from her marks. More important even than her marks is the fact that Lana has socialised with her peers, she does many things independently, develops her interests and simply put she wants to be equal to the other children. Special Education Teacher Vasilija, whom she calls Mrs Vaska, has been with Lana since her preparations for primary school and she worked intensively with her up until the fifth grade. As she was the child with disharmonious development it took a lot of effort, desire and patience to succeed, but there was success and Lana is about to complete her primary education in a mainstream school. After the fifth grade Lana and Vasilija met less frequently but they have remained in contact and Mrs Vaska is always there when she needs her, especially with mathematics. is nice to work with Lana. She likes the work, she keeps asking what we will do next and she listens carefully. She has never been recorded for a disciplinary offence and she is very quiet during classes...

Lana was happy when she found out that the Association Duga was soon moving to Dobrinja, close to her apartment block: “Super! We’ll walk to their place or will take a trolleybus just for one stop!”

In addition to Mrs Vaska and teachers at the school, Lana is also helped a lot by Aida the Pedagogue who reads with her for four hours each day after classes. “It is nice to work with Lana. She likes the work, she keeps asking what we will do next and she listens carefully. She has never been recorded for a disciplinary offence and she is very quiet during classes”, said Aida as Lana listened with a smile on her face and confirmed it. She says that she hates it when some boys are naughty during classes because it distracts her from learning. “I like studying. I like music, physical education, Bosnian and chemistry the most”, said Lana, who unlike most of her friends from school does not like weekends and days off and is particularly unhappy when she is ill and has to stay at home. “She is sad when she is not with her friends. If she is not ill then we go to the park where she plays with a ball and runs around, but if she is ill then she must stay at home and she does not take it well”, added Aida.


Lana says that she has a lot of friends at school and that many of them are also her Facebook friends. She spends a lot of time on Facebook, she likes to look at photos and chat with friends. Her best boyfriend is Dino and her best girlfriend is Merima, whereas her Facebook friends are also her school friends: Ilda, Nejra and Adela, and Hadis, a boy she met in the park. She does not spend a lot of time watching television, except for a cartoon that she likes or a good match. But she says that she does not watch cartoons any longer because they are for young children. She wishes to go to the Grbavica stadium of the Football Club “Željezničar”, whose fan she is. Lana also mentioned the UNICEF Ambassador and Manchester City football player Edin Džeko, who is currently in the ‘centre of the world’ and whose poster she has put on her closet. She was disappointed to miss the match when Džeko scored two goals, but she promised she would find a video on YouTube, which she also uses to watch music clips and some cartoons she likes music secretly, because cartoons are Lana would like to go to the “for younger children rather secondary music school after she than someone who will start completes primary school. Due secondary school soon”. to her speech impairment she cannot sing, but she likes listening Her last holidays were the to music and says that she would most interesting: she went for like to play the piano and be a a visit to her mother, Darija, pianist... who currently works for an organisation in Kenya. She was impressed by Africa and she mentioned all the animals she had seen there: elephants, cheetahs, giraffes and zebras. She likes animals and has a pet hamster named Faris, whose cage is next to her computer.

“I have given him the name of my friend Faris. It is winter time so he is sleeping all the time, but when it is not winter I let him go out of his cage and he walks on my desk. I feed him, he likes seeds”. As she likes music Lana would like to go to the secondary music school after she completes primary school. Due to her speech impairment she cannot sing, but she likes listening to music and says that she would like to play the piano and be a pianist: “I have not tried to play, but I like the piano the best and would like to try”.




Anka i Cvija from Stolac

We Strongly Desire to help, but we cannot do everything Alone


Teacher Ankica Njavro from the primary school “Stolac” attended several training courses on inclusion. At the last training she participated in, organised by the Association Duga, she had an opportunity to hear about the experiences of teachers who had spoken about their work with children with special needs included in mainstream education. She had not learnt a lot about inclusion at university, but she attended several trainings organised by the Pedagogical Institute. Her first experience with children in inclusive education was yet to be gained. She said that she was ready for challenges, but admitted that she was a bit anxious to see how it would all go.

Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Pejza`

“In the area of the Municipality there are some children with special needs and there are many of them in the other part of the school with the Bosnian curriculum; we get some advice from the teachers working with them but as one of my colleagues said, ‘all of us will once have a child with special needs in a class’. I like to work with children and that is why I selected this profession, so I will be pleased to accept to work in inclusive education. I am only concerned that apart from the trainings and seminars I attended, I did not have the opportunity to hear about a sufficient number of cases in practice”, said a concerned Ankica.


Despite all of her concerns, she hopes that with a great deal of desire and the challenges of inclusion that she will be able to perform her work with children with special needs well. Yet, she wishes that the authorities in the Ministry of Education showed more willingness to assist in order to have inclusion better implemented: “I cannot say that they are doing nothing, but I believe that more needs to be done. A mobile team has been created, but they have not visited our school since the beginning of the school year, even though my colleague Cvija has a girl, Gabrijela, with Down syndrome. She attended many trainings together with me and we talk a lot and exchange information. She has already got some initial experience, but it would be much easier if we had more support: if the mobile team visited us or, under more ideal conditions, if the school or at least the Municipality had a special education teacher who could do some additional work with children and cooperate with us so that we could advance our work too. For example, a blind boy should enrol in the school next year and no-one knows what and how to teach him, although no one objects to his enrolment into the school. We also have a boy in the third grade that moves around with difficulty, he is not stable and he does not cope well with crowds, he is attending a class with thirty-one students. He behaves well during classes and has excellent marks. We asked through the Principal to split the class in order to create more space for him, but the request was refused with the explanation that there should be one more student for the class to split! The school has really done as much as it can, his classroom is next to the door in the basement, but we cannot do more alone. The children’s response to him is excellent, they have accepted him, they look after him as much as they can and they always let ...Ankica says that she is him enter the classroom first”. sorry because the work of the system often has Ankica says that she is sorry to be done by teachers because the work of the system themselves, associations often has to be done by teachers like “Duga” or parents... themselves, associations like “Duga” or parents. She remembers a girl who attended her class who stammered: “Fortunately, her parents could afford to send her to a speech therapist in Mostar and it was quickly corrected; if that had not been the case then who knows whether her speech would have worsened additionally. There are so many children who do not have such a serious defect, but during their development some difficulties occur”.

In addition to her discussions with colleagues and seminars Ankica gains experience by volunteering at a day care called “Bethlehem” in Čapljina, which is attended by young people aged 18 to 30.


“Some of them have finished mainstream schools, but most of them attended special schools and some have serious mental impairment. They go there to socialise. There I can see some young people who would have been better if more work had been done with them, if they had gone through mainstream education. For example, there is a boy who could have had a better job if he had gone though a better therapy, if he had attended mainstream school and socialised with his peers. He spent days at home, he was taken to special school every day and after school he was again alone at home. He does not know any of his peers and spends days in his room watching television. But he has capacities and potential; for example, he can list all of the winners of the Dora Festival who represented Croatia at the Eurovision Song Contest over the period 1998 and 2010”. ...some of them have finished mainstream schools, The girl Gabrijela was enrolled but most of them attended special into the first grade of the schools and some have serious mental ninth year of education in the impairment. They go there to socialise. class of Anikica’s friend Cvija There I can see some young people Goluža, which has given her who would have been better if more an opportunity to study and work had been done with them, socialise with her peers. if they had gone through mainstream education... “Since she started school Gabrijela has made significant progress, she has socialised and does not want to be taken out of any activity. At the beginning she used to run away from the classroom, she would suddenly run out into the hallway and had aggressive outbursts, but now she wants to be equal to other children in everything they do and she is accepted by the children”, said her teacher, Cvija, who told us that she is teaching her according to an adapted curriculum. She says that each day she sees progress and Gabrijela is getting better in classes, but she is not completely sure she does everything right.

“Recently I attended a seminar organised by Duga. Special Education Teacher Vasilija was there and she really impressed me, just like a teacher from Tuzla who presented a lot of her experiences from school during one of the previous training courses. The advice and experiences I learned about help me a lot, but every child is different. Some things cannot be learnt, but we have to adjust and identify a way that will yield the best results. The training courses have helped me a lot, but I think that we need more such events, we need more contact with other teachers working on inclusion and to share our experiences


...the advice and experiences I learned about help me a lot, but every child is different. Some things cannot be learnt, but we have to adjust and identify a way that will yield the best results...

and proposals. Ankica and I are doing our best to be as informed as possible and we are eager to learn more, but apart from the examples that I mentioned we rarely have an opportunity to learn more” said Cvija. She told us about her experiences and added that she would like to have more support within the education system.

“For example, as of September last year I have been teaching a girl with Down syndrome in my class, but the mobile team has not come to visit us yet. I addressed the issue with the Principal who helped as much as she could and she responded to my request: a school pedagogue will do some additional work with Gabrijela twice a week. Gabrijela is a wonderful girl, I like to teach her and I believe that with additional engagement better progress can be achieved with her”.

Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Kompozicija (kanjon, planine, stijene)


Ankica and Cvija said that they will continue their professional development in the future as well as the sensitisation of the community in which they work, including teachers, parents and the authorities, whom they would like to see more involved in the introduction of inclusion into schools. Cvija hopes that they will be able to successfully lead Gabrijela to higher classes, while Ankica anxiously and eagerly waits for the next generation of pupils, with some children with special needs amongst them.



Darko Ple~i},

a persistent boy from Višegrad

An Assistant at a Speech Therapist Workshop Dreaming of a Restaurant on Cancun Beach


While dreaming about his restaurant on a beach near the Mexican city of Cancun, where he will be cooking his Mexican specialties and serving them while mariachi is playing, Darko Plečić from Višegrad is helping a speech therapist at the Neven Kindergarten. After he had completed special primary school it was assessed that Darko was able to continue his education in a mainstream secondary school and after three years of education he became a qualified chef. Darko recently completed his education but he has not had an opportunity to work in his profession yet, and was therefore delighted when he was called to assist the speech therapist each Saturday morning at eleven. The therapies are provided within the UNICEF project “Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System for Children in BiH”. Darko told us a little about his working day in the speech therapy workshop: “I am happy to be with the doctor. I prepare the room for him before he arrives, then I meet the children and parents and if a child is already being treated I tell them, ‘Good afternoon, would you please wait a bit, the doctor will see you soon’. Thereafter I tidy the room and leave it clean and tidy and lock up”. He says he is extremely happy to be able to work and that he spends a part of his wage with his mom and saves the rest. He says that he still does not know what he will buy with the money, but most likely he will buy basketball shoes. When he was called and asked to work he had some positive stage fright; he did not know how it would all go, whether he would manage and how he would be accepted by the parents and children who came for the treatment. “I first went there then started to work and everything is great now. They accepted me well and I organised the work well to make it go smoothly, I think everybody is satisfied. When I walk down town the parents and children recognise me and we say hello to each other”, said Darko. When asked if he had received any “immoral requests” to let someone who does not have an appointment in, he said: “Everything is organised and everybody has his or her own appointment, they come on time and no-one can get in without an appointment. No-one ever asked for it and even if I were asked I would not let it happen!” The Director of the Neven Kindergarten, Mladenka Vilotić, said that she was satisfied with Darko’s work as well as with the workshop and the project Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System for Children in BiH in general, which provides around twenty children of preschool age with speech therapy. “We pointed out through the municipal committee that children of preschool age are often neglected and that this had to be changed as soon as possible because at that age numerous difficulties children are facing can be corrected so that they can be included into society and appropriately directed. That made me especially happy when we were granted this project, because many children have already benefited from speech therapy and I believe it will be even more beneficial during the six-month project implementation”.


Director Mladenka also pointed out that Darko’s engagement adds some special charm. The idea to engage Darko occurred spontaneously and was easy as Darko had successfully completed secondary school with very good academic achievements and had an excellent reference from the director of school.

Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Rijeka “Darko’s engagement is one of the rare examples of involving children with psycho-physical disorders, but also an excellent example that they can do a good job and complete the tasks they are given. I attended a workshop organised by the Association Duga, where I heard about many examples of persons with special needs, both children and adults, performing all the tasks they are assigned with thoroughly and with great responsibility. Darko is an excellent example of inclusion in practice and through his engagement I could personally see what I had had an opportunity to hear about during the workshop”. Darko says that his working hours, from 11.00 a.m., suit him very well, as he can have enough sleep, but he would also not mind if he had to come even earlier, because “that’s the job”. He believes that his six-month engagement will help him develop good working habits and find a job more easily in the future. The Director, Mladenka, promised that Darko will receive the best reference and she will try as much as she can to help him find a job.


“I would like to work in a restaurant. I like to cook various kinds of stews, but I could cook some other food too, whatever is needed”, said Darko. He told us that his biggest wish is to cook Mexican food; although he has never had an opportunity to try any Mexican food he says that he has watched it being prepared on television and that he has read many recipes, so he is convinced that he could learn how to cook Mexican food if he found a proper recipe book. If the kindergarten manages to organise a visit to the Zoo in Sarajevo Darko may go with them. He sees it as a chance to visit one of the Mexican restaurants he has heard about. He is aware that Cancun is far away, but regardless of this fact, he dreams of going there one day. “There are many celebrities there and I would like to cook for them. There are not too many good restaurants in Višegrad so I would like to open a restaurant serving Mexican food. I also like Mexican music and I am so happy to watch people wearing sombreros, play guitars and sing love songs”. ...there are not too

many good restaurants in Višegrad

In addition to food and music, so I would like to open a restaurant Darko is also fascinated with the serving Mexican food... Spanish language. He has learned some basic phrases in Spanish by watching many series on television. Apart from these series, Darko likes to watch football and basketball matches. He is a fan of the Football Club “Partizan” from Belgrade but he frequents matches of the football club “Drina” from Višegrad, which plays in the Republic League of Republika Srpska. He also goes to the basketball matches of the local club “Varda”, but he does not watch volleyball games as the local club is no longer in the first league. He regularly reads newspapers such as Press, Blic and Novosti and never misses the main evening news at seven-thirty. “I like to be informed about the latest developments. I mostly read and watch sports news, but also the political news. Politicians have everything, they fritter money away on expensive cars and it would be better if they took more care for their people and children”. Darko had an opportunity to see the film director, Emir Kusturica, who will soon start construction of Kamengrad (Stone Town) in Višegrad where he plans to make his new film. It should also prove to be a tourist attraction. It was announced that there will be some restaurants in Kamengrad and that the town will employ one hundred and fifty people, so Darko is hoping that he can get a job at one of the restaurants after his engagement at the speech therapy workshop and while he is waiting to leave for Cancun.



Melisa Begovi},

a mother from Novi Travnik who would not give-up on inclusion

I was thinking of Giving-up, yet my Desire for Mubin to get another Chance was stronger


Five years ago Melisa Begović from Novi Travnik did not believe that her son Mubin, a child with combined disorders, would manage to be included in regular education and attain good academic results. Yet today, after Mubin has completed the first term of the fifth grade with very good results, Melisa, who works as a teacher at the primary school “Edhem Mulabdić” in Novi Travnik, thinks differently.

Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Mravlji `ivot s osobinama ljudi

After it was assessed at the first categorisation stage that Mubin at the age of six could not attend school he spent the next three years at the Duga Daycare Centre for Children with Developmental Disorders in Novi Travnik. At the second categorisation stage it was recommended that Mubin try to attend regular education and thus Mubin started the first grade at the age of nine. “I knew that he was moving with difficulty and that he also had problems in communication, so I was afraid that it would not go well. We were prepared for his enrolment into a special school and if it had been necessary we would have moved to Zenica or Sarajevo, because there is no specialised institution in Novi Travnik. Yet, we were told to try, but not to make him involved by any


means. To be honest, when we were advised include him in the mainstream school I was surprised and then I was anxious about it. Although we had never wanted him to be isolated from others, some of his movement difficulties made him isolated so he could not always go out and socialise with children. I was particularly anxious about the school he was supposed to be enrolled at, as I worked there and I knew that the school did not have the best conditions: it has a lot of stairs and it is narrow. The school management did their best and they wanted to be helpful and moved his class to a classroom in the basement. Having though about it a lot we decided to try anyway, because we did not have the right not to give him a chance”, said Melisa.

...he was lucky to have had Melisa remembers those first an excellent teacher who had days as not being easy and there prepared for his arrival to the class, were often moments when she but she also prepared the other thought about giving it all up: children and explained everything “He was lucky to have had an to them, so he had a excellent teacher who had marvellous welcome... prepared for his arrival to the class, but she also prepared the other children and explained everything to them, so he had a marvellous welcome. The children were engaged and they helped him as much as they could and the teacher was truly trying hard to assist. Fortunately, I also worked at the school and because I spend all the time with Mubin outside school I knew best how he would respond to particular things, so I talked about everything with my colleague who taught him. As far as he was concerned, at the beginning he did not show any interest, he could not focus as he did not want to sit at a desk and so soon after we brought him to school he would ask, ‘When is my dad coming to pick me up?’, because he was very attached to us. He was not very interested in the other children and there seemed to be no prospects of any special improvement”.

Mubin’s teacher, although not specifically prepared for inclusion, tried to teach him as much as she could. In addition to speech therapy at the Duga Daycare Centre he was taken to a special rehabilitation therapist in Vitez. “As he had been to the Daycare Centre before we continued to take him to the special education teacher, while we paid for special rehabilitation therapies ourselves according to our abilities. Mubin moves around with difficulty and we have struggled hard to avoid a wheelchair. We drive him to school everyday by car and he spends the day with Mrs Zijada, who is helping him to go to a toilet or go out for a break. After the initial shock, he started to adapt and he was better at learning lessons and then in establishing relationships with children


and the whole environment. The teacher did her best and we also worked a lot with Mubin at home, but it was evident that additional professional help would do him good”. The situation is now much better than two years ago. The Municipality of Novi Travnik, one of the municipalities involved in the UNICEF project Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System of Children in BiH, recruited a special education teacher, Mirela Perenda, who works with children in four schools using the Bosnian curricula. Mirela is currently working with thirtyeight children who need additional treatment, twenty of whom attend classes according to an adapted curriculum.

Avdo Dizdarevi} . VII4 . Dje~ak i pas

“When I started to work with Mubin he had learned upper-case letters and number 1 through 10, but he could not read. It was obvious that some work with him had been done, but he needed additional expert assistance”, Mirela, the Special Education Therapist, told us. Melisa added that Mubin had shown significant improvement as a result of studying with Mirela:


“As of the third grade I noticed that he had gained more knowledge, he studied harder and was more focused. It was difficult for him to manage within a group, but he gained more knowledge individually. Over time, he changed his relationship with children and began to socialise with them”.

...yet, I have always had the same questions on my mind: how will it go, will the children accept him, will he accept them, will someone push him as he is not stable on his feet, how will he cope with lessons and so on. Having failed at the first categorisation, we were told to try with inclusion at the second stage and it turned out well that he had continued his education...

When she looks back at the period of the last five years Melisa says that she is satisfied and happy that they have coped well together, because she did not give up even during those times when everything seemed hopeless.

“We have really gone through a difficult period. Many things happened, even some thoughts to give up occurred, but nevertheless the desire to give another chance to Mubin was stronger. I do not believe that any significant progress would have been made without his inclusion into mainstream education and I am afraid that he would have been in a very bad shape. Yet, I have always had the same questions on my mind: how will it go, will the children accept him, will he accept them, will someone push him as he is not stable on his feet, how will he cope with lessons and so on. Having failed at the first categorisation, we were told to try with inclusion at the second stage and it turned out well that he had continued his education. There were some difficulties when he moved to the classes with many teachers and when the number of subjects increased, he was quite attached to his teacher. Nevertheless, he completed the first term with very good achievements, which means that he is doing well. He has also shown some improvement in socialising with children, he spends school breaks mainly with girls because they are more careful with him, more willing to help him and they are not as aggressive as boys, who constantly run around and push each other so they might hurt him, because he is not stable on his feet”. ...many things happened, Melisa says that she is not too even some thoughts to give up bothered by the fact that he occurred, but nevertheless the desire to has to be taken to school and give another chance to Mubin picked by Mrs Zijada, but she was stronger... often thinks about what will


happen after the primary school: “I think it is the biggest concern for all parents of children with special needs. We can see that he is interested in IT because he likes computers and spends a lot of time at home on his computer. He is doing well with the Internet and he can find quickly whatever he is interested in. A few days ago he found an episode of “Only Fools and Horses”, which he likes a lot, and he typed in the title in English. We hope that he will know more by the end of the primary school and that he will be able to enrol in secondary school or do something related to computers. The progress he has achieved so far and everything that we have gone through together gives us hope that in the future he will be able to continue his education and find a job that suits him best”.


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