Uniting Differences (2013-2015)

‘Uniting Differences’: an initiative to support educators in Croatia to encourage social inclusion via new educational methodologies. This pilot project aimed to address the gap in the educational system in Croatia that can often lead to the social and economic marginalisation of Roma groups, through training preschool teachers in Medjimurje County in working effectively in multicultural and multi-ability classrooms.

In Croatia, only an estimated 10 percent of Roma children finish primary school, and illiteracy rates reach 38.5 percent. One of the main reasons is insufficient knowledge of the Croatian language, which is due in great part to segregation. Segregation is intended to improve Roma students’ skills, through specialised classes, but many times the children follow a restricted curriculum that does not meet the mainstream standards. Moreover, the children are often placed in segregated classes within mainstream schools, or even separate schools (commonly called 'ghetto schools').  The children’s education suffers, but so does their psyche, as they are marginalised at a young age. The non-Roma children also suffer, as they are robbed of the opportunity to experience diversity in their schools and to live as equal school citizens.

Uniting Differences was a pilot project to address equal access to education. The project helped train staff and create plans to bring the Roma children into mainstream schools, by starting with preschool children. We helped build capacities in Croatia that supported equal opportunities for Roma children to successfully take part in education systems in Croatian schools. This happened by building the capacities of staff of preschool educational institutions in the implementation and diffusion of multicultural teaching methods as a means to support the social inclusion of Roma children.

The project sought to improve the broader school environment by enhancing the local administrative and educative capacities with new methodologies, by helping local authorities be more aware of the problems and needs related to the social integration of Roma children in education, and by communicating and showcasing their practices and successes to decision-makers, educational authorities and civil society as a whole.

The training of trainers workshops were focused on teaching for early-learning teaching methodologies, as presented in the Uniting Differences handbook, so that the teachers in attendance would be able to provide workshops for other teachers who will use the material in their schools. These training sessions were followed by an exchange of ideas, and Ms. Zsuzsanna Szabo from Hungary and Prof. Hristo Kyuchukov from Bulgaria were the experts on site guiding these workshops.The Uniting Differences project successfully completed training of trainers workshops for more than 30 teachers-trainers, and training sessions for 45 pre-school teachers in Medjimurje County.

After 21 months of efforts, the pilot project was completed. The CDRSEE, along with its partners, the Center for Peace, Legal Advice and Psychosocial Assistance in Vukovar and the Preschool Teachers Association in Medjimurje “Krijesnice udruga odgajatelja” presented the evaluation in Sveti Martin on 20 May 2015.

Uniting Differences impacted the lives of the children who were touched by the project, and in the long run, Roma and society as a whole benefit from the action. Roma children attending school from a young age remain within the educational system so that they can eventually enter the labour market with a marketable set of skills, as well as social and educational qualifications to the benefit of society as a whole. Roma benefit from a more equal and fair society as well as from better representation at the political and social levels.


Republika Hrvatska donijela je program za Rome, akcijski plan, pa nacionalnu strategiju za njihovu integraciju, a pristupila je i međunarodnoj inicijativi "Desetljeće za uključivanje Roma" koje završava ove godine. Dakle, postoje političke odluke i kontinuitet u radu državnih institucija. Svoj doprinos daje i lokalna zajednica, i nevladin sektor, a obrazovanje se smatra strateškim interesom. Sve je to dio dugotrajnog procesa.

Posted by HRT centar Čakovec - Varaždin on Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ujedinjenje razlika - poticanje integracije romske djece predškolskog uzrasta
Uniting Differences - fostering the integration of Roma preschool children



European Union / Europska Unija Intermediate
Body level 1 /
tijelo razine 1
Body level 2 /
tijelo razine 2
Project Partner

Investment in the future /
Ulaganje u budućnost

This project is co-financed by the EU under the European Social Fund /
Projekt je sufinancirala EU iz Europskog socijalnog fonda,,