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Djokovic Scholars at the University of Belgrade

In 2018, Novak Djokovic Foundation launched the initiative Djokovic Scholars initiative in partnership with the University of Belgrade.

The aim of Djokovic Scholars initiative at the University in Belgrade is to build academic and research leaders in the field of early childhood education and development, who will be key actors in exploring, informing and advocating for quality preschool education policies and practices in Serbia.

About the program

The program Djokovic Scholars at the University of Belgrade is launched in January 2018 for the period of three years. Within this cooperation, Novak Djokovic Foundation will support the Faculty of Philosophy - Department of Pedagogy and Andragogy - providing two full scholarships to the newly enrolled PhD students with the research focus on early childhood education and development, and the costs of salary for one early-career academic (assistant), with the same research interests.

This initiative is intended to strengthen the research capacities and to contribute to the development of academic change agents in the field of preschool pedagogy in Serbia. It will contribute to the creation of a solid base of empirical evidence to the relevant and contemporary topics of early childhood education, delivering a strong evidence base for decisions, policies, and strategies as well as the meaningful and pertinent changes in pedagogic practice.


Our Global CEO, Alberto Lidji, and prof. dr. Dаnijel Sinаni, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Pedagogy at University of Belgrade are enthused about this initiative:

“I am delighted that the Novak Djokovic Foundation launched the Djokovic Scholars program in cooperation with the Faculty of Philosophy, a part of the University of Belgrade - leading institution of higher education in Serbia and the region. The Foundation's focus is Early Childhood Education and Development and by investing in the Djokovic Scholars program we aim to enhance the body of knowledge in this field, which will benefit practitioners, policymakers and key stakeholders, and will also inspire the next generation of leaders in Serbia and beyond."

Alberto Lidji

Global CEO of the Novak Djokovic Foundation
“The newly established cooperation with the Foundation Novak Djokovic is very significant due to several reasons: primarily because of the fact that the Foundation is ready to establish a partnership and invest its reputation and resources in support of higher education in Serbia, but especially because of the fact that this renowned foundation recognised the importance and quality of knowledge and skills that young people gain at our faculty. For the academic and scientific research community, there is an instrumental value in improvement of human resources and involvement of new, young, and talented researchers who have this opportunity thanks to the support of the Foundation. For the Djokovic Scholars, the opportunity to professionally deal with research topics at the institution in which they gained initial education will be a great experience and will surely motivate them to stay the best, and one day support further improvement of teaching and research programs.“

Professor Danijel Sinani, PhD

Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Belgrade

Why the Djokovic Scholars
Program is so important

At the Novak Djokovic Foundation, we are fiercely devoted to furthering the field of study surrounding Early Childhood Development and Education because we believe that knowledge is power. If we can acquire as much scientific knowledge as possible about the ways children grow, about the fundamental importance of their early years, about the best, most compelling strategies to guide and nurture them, then we are given the very real and very essential power to change lives in mighty ways.

We want to contribute to the body of research that has proven, undisputedly, to be so critical to improving children’s lives, particularly those lives that come from marginalized backgrounds.

Schools, teachers, children, parents, families: it’s who and what we’re passionate about here at the Novak Djokovic Foundation, and we endeavour to support these networks, and the people that navigate their lives within them, in real and tangible ways.

Djokovic ECD Scholars

The Novak Djokovic Foundation is delighted to welcome
the 2018-2022 class of Djokovic ECD Scholars

The 2018-2022 Djokovic ECD Scholars

Nevena Mitranic is a third-year doctoral student of Preschool Pedagogy at the Department of Pedagogy and Andragogy of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. At the same faculty, she defended her Master's thesis Child's Play in the context of Education Policy and Practice. Since September 2016, she has been working as a demonstrator for the courses Child's Play and Creativity and Developing Early Childhood Education Practice and she also assists in the program Curriculum Development and Evaluation.
Her PhD research is focused on child's play and explores opportunities for improving the quality of play in kindergartens. This qualitative study seeks to identify ways in which child's play develops in kindergarten, using a variety of perspectives - when and how children start playing, how we understand and respond to child's play, what matters to us in this respect and finally what happens when we join them in their playful activities.
Jelena Stojkovic is a first-year doctoral student of Preschool Pedagogy at the Department of Pedagogy and Andragogy of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. Since September 2017, she has been working as a deputy secretary at the Department of Pedagogy and Andragogy, where she earned her bachelor and master degree, dealing with the topic "How Digital Communication Impacts Relationships Among Young People and Risks They Face Online". Her research interests encompass early childhood education and development in the modern world, child rights issues and their participation in society, as well as the role of digital technologies in ECD. Her doctoral thesis seeks to answer the question how children use digital technologies to learn, explore, play and express themselves. Jelena hopes her work will contribute to bridging the gap between research and practice.

Ljubica Ilic Vojnovic is a first-year doctoral student of Preschool Pedagogy at the Department of Pedagogy and Andragogy of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. She is also a pedagogue and assistant director at the educational center "Kreativno pero". In 2015, Ljubica defended her Master's thesis under the title Pedagogue in the Culture of the Preschool Institution. She has also been engaged with the international education programs and projects focused on promoting professional development of preschool and primary school teachers. During her doctoral studies at the Department of Pedagogy and Andragogy, Ljubica will seek to identify the ways how the culture of the preschool institution is established and developed. Her PhD research is focused on the development of preschool institutions as organisations that recognize and respect the needs of all participants of the educational process.

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