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Serbia Education Improvement Project

Babušnica is a small town nestled in the hills of impoverished
southeast Serbia. Čitluk is a tiny community in the republic’s central
region. And Đurđevo is a village in the heart of Vojvodina, a
developed northern province. Though far apart on the map, these
three communities are bound together by an innovative education
program supported by a US$10 million World Bank credit. This program
has improved the lives of teachers and pupils in some 200
schools in these towns. The residents also became involved, turning
this into a genuine movement.

The school improvement program was initiated in August 2002. It
was part of a broader education improvement project. In addition to
improving teaching and learning, these grants aimed to empower
communities to take responsibility for their schools. Funding for
school development was only made available once plans had been
drawn up by local education authorities with input from local people.
When the World Bank Country Office Team visited three elementary
schools involved in the program, everyone agreed that the
benefits far surpassed the original investment (between US$5,300
and US$6,500 per school).

Kamenka Ignjatović is a member of the development team at the
Stefan Lazarević Elementary School in Babušnica. She recalls how
it all began: “Almost none of our teachers were computer literate at
the time. When the training started we would spend the whole day
at school, staying even longer than required.” The program was
popular outside the school as well. After learning about the project,
private partners from Babušnica eventually became interested and
involved. A dance school from the town of Pirot donated a computer
to the school.

“We were just like kids during the training, enjoying every second
of it,” explains Snežana Rajković, a teacher at the Sveti Sava Elementary
School in Čitluk with 597 pupils. “Professors, parents, and
community representatives—altogether 15 people—worked on a
three-year development plan for the school. Eventually, they came
up with what they called an Eco-School project. They trained 30
professors to conduct workshops to help students apply what they
learn to daily life. As a result, children at this school recycle paper,
monitor water and air pollution in the area and, together with their
parents, they produce environmentally friendly food.”

The idea for Quality School in a Village for a Village Project came
from the community of Đurđevo. Vukica Petrović, a teacher at the
Jovan Jovanović Zmaj Elementary School explained that the community’s
initial suggestions included creating a website and putting
Elementary school in Čitluk: Learning about recycling old paper
out a school newspaper. Eventually they all agreed that increasing
their knowledge of information technology was crucial to the improvement
of teaching. As a result, 90 percent (28 out of 32) of the staff
plus two representatives of the local community and two professors
from a school nearby are now trained to work with computers.

Last updated: 2010-04-18

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