Care for school-age children

From March 2011 after competition for obtaining housing for vulnerable families, Department of Education monitors attendance of school and progress 27 Roma children as well as a number of adults who were divided into seven primary schools, in one school for children with special needs and in one primary school for education of adults, which are located in municipalities where there are mobile units. In the school year 2011/12 Secretariat for Education follows the success and attendance of 101 pupils from the age of 7 to the age of 15, who are obliged to attend classes. All pupils of Belgrade primary schools from forth to the eight grades have been given textbooks from the City of Belgrade and pupils from the first to the third grade received textbooks from the Ministry of Education and Science.

The Secretariat of Education, akin to the previous school year, coordinated between the various levels of government in order to achieve better outcomes for Roma children, finding ways for the process of integration into the regular school system with special emphasis on school attendance and raising awareness about the importance of education. The bases of our work are schools and as well as educational assistants who are the link between schools and neighborhoods (families) in which children live. Schools as part of theirs regular activities take account of: regular attendance, proper distribution of children according to grades, acceptance of Roma children as they passed one year from the time of displacement, developing individual education plans in accordance with the Law on the Foundations of education, motivation of children and remedial classes.

Principals send regular reports and notification of the presence for each child. The data are regularly monitored in the Secretariat of Education and there is regular communication with school principals. Through communication with school principals, special attention is paid to the safety of school children and question of equal rights and treatment. We can say that principals do not report threats to Roma pupils.

There is a regular speak to with the municipalities considering the information on children who do not attend school, as well as with municipal representatives who take the necessary measures and inform the Secretariat. Pedagogical assistants went into the regular system of financing in March 2011 and that made the communication between schools and parents a lot easier. Visits to the settlements are related above all to talk with parents in terms of motivation and as a reminder of the importance of institutional education for their children, as well as the obligatory primary school. Since the beginning of the school year 2011/12 the certificates are issued to parents by the school to attain right to social assistance and child benefits are issued monthly to parents, thus taking care of children and monitor the regularity of school attendance.

Secretariat monitors school children over the age of 15 at the school for adult education, cooperates and is involved in the project of the Ministry of Education and Science, "Second Chance". This Secretariat in cooperation with the Secretariat for Child Protection and the Secretariat of Health takes care of the enrollment of children who have completed preparatory preschool program in first grade. In the academic 2011/2012, year nineteen children enrolled in first grade, all pupils that are first grade have been given by the City of Belgrade backpacks with school supplies.

Under the Low on the Foundations of Education, Roma children are eligible for admission to desired high school, and that has been monitored through the cooperation with the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and the Ministry of Education and Science. All Roma pupils who successfully completed the eighth grade in June 2011, have been enrolled in high school.

The competition for projects was announced by the Secretariat of Education in 2011. The given theme was Raising the importance of institutional education and gain experience, knowledge and skills in different areas. Roma children will be included in those projects and work with them will be carried out in the settlement. 

Current Activities

The goal of this part of the programme is to accelerate the inclusion of the whole community of resettled citizens through education. The programme is based on directing the whole policy towards the enhancement of education of the Roma children and adults. The project is a part of a system which inter-connects legislative, human resources, technical, scientific and expert programmes. The main goal of developing these programmes and activities, which contribute to a better quality, more accessible, adjustable and effective education, is the enhancement of the education structure of the resettled families.

The conditions necessary for the children to start going to school have been provided. At the beginning of the school year, school material and textbooks have been procured for the pupils of all grades and transportation for pupils from their respective settlements to schools has been provided.

During October, families from Bezanijska street were resettled. That is when care of school children begun in terms of listing the children and enrolling them in schools nearest to them. On that occasion, eight more pupils who had not attended school until then were included into regular education system.

As a part of a joint action of the Secretariat for Education and the Secretariat for Child Care, children from the settlements in Surcin, Barajevo, Čukarica and Rakovica and went to see the play The Children of Paul’s Street at Dadov theatre in November.”

In their weekly reports, the school principles submit information regarding the attendance for each individual child. According to the obtained reports, we have data according to which 22.3% of the total number of pupils have not been attending classes since the beginning of the school year. The remaining 77.7% of the pupils attend lectures regularly. In comparison to the previous school year during the same period, the attendance is better by about 20%. Since a certain number of pupils do not attend classes regularly, the Secretariat for Education will provide an escort who will be responsible for the regular attendance of classes in terms of escorting children to and from school, while the parents who do not send their children to school will be handed notifications. 74.6% of pupils attended school regularly during the first semester of the school year 2010/11.

There are also numerous programmes for the socialization of Roma children. Since the end of November, 2010, students of the Faculty of Philology have started work with children at the new settlements. Each weekend, the students hold workshops with children where the young persons improve their reading abilities and enhance their skills to express themselves, as well as activities aimed at developing affinity towards books and literature. Foreign language classes held by the students of this faculty will be introduced soon. Students of the Arts Faculty have started an extracurricular educational work with resettled children. On November 9th, in cooperation with the Faculty of Philology, a competition for the best song about Belgrade for school-age children was announced. In cooperation with the Tourist Organization of Belgrade, a sightseeing visit to Kalemegdan for the children from Rakovica and Barajevo was organized. There are also plans to organize sightseeing tours of Belgrade on the rivers, as well as a visit to the archaeological site in Vinca and other educational excursions. Also, in cooperation with the non-governmental sector, many education projects for children and adults were organized. In 2010 and 2011 literacy programmes for adults have been introduced, programmes for the enhancement of social inclusion of the Roma with disabilities, informative programmes about disability rights and programmes for the development of social skills. The Secretariat for Education, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, started a number of lectures at the settlements aimed at getting to know local police better.

The general strategy in the sphere of education is based on implementing measures that will provide equal educational opportunities as much as possible.

In 2011 the activities of the Secretariat of Education continued those that have been started in 2010. The record is kept of the 120 students who are legally obliged to attend classes out of total 142 students that enrolled the school year 2010/11.