Under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia, an International Conference on Migration, Integration and Religion in Early Childhood Educational Institutions, organized by the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, the Department for Islamic-Teological Studies of the University of Vienna, in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb was held in Zagreb, from 23 till 25 November 2018.
The questions related to integration in institutions dealing with early childhood education have not yet been sufficiently addressed within the scientific community or by government-run institutions. Therefore, an extensive discussion of questions concerning the specific position of early education of migrant and asylum seeking children was within the scope of this conference. Renowned academics and participants from a wide range of disciplines and interdisciplinary fields from 14 EU countries focused on the questions that are relevant for developing competences and capabilities of early childhood educational institutions with particular regard to linguistic, cultural and religious diversity.
Through the participation of the most prestigious scholars in this field in Europe, the conference contributed to addressing the issues of relevance to the quality development of elementary educational institutions with religious and cultural diversity, among which the measures that are necessary to enable early educational institutions to react with purposeful arrangements to the expanding migration processes, the questions of educational policies in the process of integration, and the role of early childhood educators in these processes were addressed.
The conference was opened by the welcoming words from Dinka Marinović Jerolimov, Ph.D., the Director of the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, prof. Ednan Aslan, Ph.D., the Head of the Department for Islamic-Teological Studies of the University of Vienna and prof. Jasminka Lažnjak, Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. Keynote speeches were given by prof. Vedrana Spajić-Vrkaš, Ph.D. from the Department of Pedagogy of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb and Drago Župarić-Iljič, Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb.
The conference ended with a round table at which the challenges and practices in early education of refugees and children with migrant background in Croatia were discussed. The participants of the round table were: Eli Pijaca Plavšić (Forum for Freedom in Education), Asja Korbar (Are you Syrious), Muhamed Mandžić (The Islamic Community of Croatia), Sanja Brajković (Step by Step) and Mirna Čačić (Jesuite Refugee Service).