Educational support of Roma school-age children
In 2005 Bread of Life began a Programme of support for Roma children with regard to their education and integration into the state school system.
The programme primarily focuses on a more successful integration of Roma children into the school system, with the goal of regular completion of primary school education, and then enrolment in the secondary educational institution. In this way, by nurturing mutual relations and relationships outside their immediate environment they can better exercise and protect their basic human rights.
The long-term goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of the Roma community through education in order to improve living conditions and break the cycle of poverty of this socially marginalized group.
In order to achieve this goal it was necessary to establish cooperation with the local schools, teachers, parents of children and other leaders in the community who are involved to a greater or lesser degree, for example municipality leaders, the Roma Centre institution, Roma associations, etc.
The programme of support of education of Roma children is implemented in the municipality of Surcin and includes 80 Roma children who attend primary school, and about 50 of their parents from several nearby Roma settlements.
The program of support is held at the location which children and teachers popularly call "The House" and which the Bread of Life and the municipality of Surcin together equipped at the beginning of the programme, for the work and classes for Roma children.
Activities that are being held:
- Study help classes are held for Roma children who attend primary school from 1st to 8th grade. Assistance is provided in mastering school materials, especially in mathematics, Serbian and foreign languages, homework completion, preparing for school exams, etc.
At the end of the school year, classes are organized for children who finish 8th grade to help them prepare for the final exam and give guidance when enrolling in high school. Classes are held for three hours every working day.
- Educational, creative and other workshops are held for children from 1st to 8th grade in the programme to enable them to develop various new skills and knowledge.
Special attention is given to the topics of understanding diversity, overcoming prejudices, understanding the problems of conflict and discrimination. Children are stimulated and encouraged to suggest activities and plays through which they can present their culture and community to their Roma community, and also to the wider local community, on occasions such as Roma Day, School Day, New Year and so on. Workshops take place at least twice a month for two hours.
- Social activities are organized in the wider local community for the children from 1st to the 8th grade. These activities include going to the cinema, zoo, aqua park, the organization of educational trips, recreational and educational camps, etc. Every event for children which takes them out of their immediate environment and brings them to a new environment is an experience which enriches the child's personality, develops new patterns of behaviour and contributes to their better integration into the wider social community. These activities include all children from all programmes.
- Regular meetings for parents - In addition to regular parent meetings held every other month, parents have the opportunity for informal meetings with teachers. Various educational workshops are organized with parents of children, in order to enable them to support their children to persevere in education.
- Periodic meetings with representatives of schools, and local community leaders and the Roma minority leaders in municipal institutions Meetings are used for presenting and reporting on the results of the programme. They facilitate better cooperation of parents with teachers in order to achieve greater results in working with Roma children, and they encourage the wider community in joint action to improve the living conditions of the Roma community.