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International Relief Fund 2020
Education for all

A community assistant accompanies children back home after school, Dušan Radović Primary School, Novi Sad
A community assistant accompanies children back home after school, Dušan Radović Primary School, Novi Sad | Photo (detail of Video Still): © Andrija Kovač

Forum Roma Serbia has been working for years against the precarious living situation of Roma in Serbia and aims above all at expanding access to education for Roma children in order to create perspectives and strengthen the social participation of the minority. The children often fall out of the Serbian school system simply because of their language. The closure of schools and online classes during the pandemic have exacerbated the situation. With funding from the International Relief Fund 2020 of the Goethe-Institut, the German Foreign Office and other foundations and cultural intermediary organisations, Forum Roma was able to maintain teaching for various Roma settlements in Bor, Novi Sad and Požarevac.

By Saša Kamenović

The project under the title "Education for All" has been implemented in Bor, Novi Sad and Požarevac since September and runs until the end of the year, for the duration of the International Relief Fund 2020. The aim is to support socially disadvantaged children in coping with the school programme. This was prompted by problems schools had to deal with during the current pandemic. At least 40 children in each of the three cities are to be supported through the project activities. Active support is planned for all school children, with a focus on children of primary school age.

Practising the Serbian alphabet at the Vuk Karadžić Primary School in Bor Practising the Serbian alphabet at the Vuk Karadžić Primary School in Bor | Photo (detail Video Still): © Andrija Kovač
“Due to the current epidemiological situation, lessons are not held in units of 45 minutes. Lessons have been shortened to 30 minutes, which is not only too little for the normal subject matter, but especially for the individual support of pupils who need extra assistance,” says Ivana Pajkić, headmistress of the Vuk Karadžić Primary School in Bor. “The teachers at our school have recognised the need to support pupils of the Roma ethnic group in mastering certain lesson content.”, she adds. “During the COVID 19 pandemic, many students are in need of extra help. Only then will they have the same educational opportunities as their classmates. In cooperation with the Roma youth initiative 'Gypsy Soul', we designed a support programme that the Goethe-Institut and the Forum Roma Serbia considered important and supported. In addition to learning aids, the pupils have also received school supplies and an interactive blackboard has been donated to the school to enable modern teaching.”

The support measures for Roma pupils were designed and implemented by pedagogical assistants and primary school teachers. The pupils have attended these lessons regularly and have shown interest in attending additional lessons. Many pupils felt that this would help them to catch up on the lessons they had missed.
Forum Roma Serbia | Video: © Nemanja Babić and Andrija Kovač, Goethe-Institut e.V.
English subtitles can be displayed © YouTube Video in English, Serbian and Romany language.
German subtitles can be displayed.
 

Catching up on neglect

At the beginning of the project “Education for All”, in cooperation with pedagogical assistants from the Vuk Karadžić Primary School in Bor, a list of 42 children from grades 1 to 5 in need of additional learning support, especially in Serbian and mathematics, was drawn up. Regular communication took place with the Forum Roma members on topics as classroom dynamics, classroom support, ensuring unhindered activity in line with COVID-19 prevention measures, and procurement of teaching materials and school supplies.
 
The supporting measures for Roma pupils were designed and implemented by pedagogical assistants and primary school teachers. The pupils have attended these lessons regularly and have shown interest in attending additional lessons. Many pupils felt that this would help them to catch up on the lessons they had missed.
 
The teaching activities follow the curriculum of the Serbian Ministry of Education throughout and thus also the pace at which the respective teaching units are gone through in regular classes.
 

Author

Saša Kamenović is a teacher at the Vuk Karadžić Primary School in Bor.

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