PREPARATION FOR INTEGRATION OF ROMA CHILDREN IN PRESCHOOL EDUCATION
A large number of Roma children are not adequately prepared to start primary school, which is one of the main causes of later failure in education.
Roma children aged 3 to 5.5 are far less involved in preschool education programmes than other children. Only 6% of Roma children have access to this type of education. A significant number of them live in conditions of poverty and therefore do not have enough incentives for early development and learning within the family environment.
For that reason Bread of Life included in its work, children at the earliest age of 4 to 6, so that they could prepare and be included in the education system on an equal basis with other children.
The programme ‘Preparation for the Integration of Roma Children into Preschool Education’ includes children aged 5 and 6 from the two Roma settlements of Backi Ilovik and Vojni put in Zemun. All children of the specified age from both settlements were enabled to be included in this preparatory programme.
Since 2015, about 80 children have gone through the programme.
Activities aimed at preparation of Roma children of an early age for enrolment in preschool education are part of the programme Support in Education and Integration of Roma Children which has been implemented since 2004.
- Organizing various workshops - The content is designed to help children develop fine motor skills, develop speech and verbal communication, and to learn Serbian. Creativity is encouraged, the basics of counting and writing are taught according to age, and practice group work is encouraged. These help develop mutual respect and camaraderie, and other skills and knowledge which are important for a good start when enrolling in the preschool system.
The activities are carried out every working day for 3 hours and include a maximum of 15 children.
- Regular meetings with parents - Regular two-hour meetings with parents are organized once a month, to encourage and empower them to support their children to engage in regular education. Motivation and communication with parents is of great importance for maintaining continuity in working with children.
- Workshops of educational and creative content with mothers of children - Once a month, workshops of educational and creative content are organized for mothers of children, to strengthen their self-confidence and take greater responsibility in contributing to the development of the family. Ten women are involved in these two-hour sessions.
- Educational, creative, sports and other workshops - are held with children from previous generations who are now included in preschool education or in the 1st and 2nd grade of primary school. The workshops include practicing new communication skills, teamwork, freedom of expression and overcoming conflicts. The aim is to help them fit in with their peers at school as easily as possible. They are organized twice a month for two hours, and involve about 25 children.