Novak Djokovic is an inspirational figure on and off the court. His achievements on the court are well known to the world, but what is even more inspirational is the work he does off the court.
In 2007 Novak Djokovic founded the Novak Djokovic Foundation which has been achieving great things ever since, helping the youngest get the access to preschool education.
For Novak, early childhood education and development has always been the most important field into which he felt the need to invest. In his eyes, a child who receives a quality early childhood education has a chance to return strongly to any challenge and to become a winner in any field.
Speaking of his childhood and his success, he always stressed that he owes everything to his family. Because of their belief in him, their trust, love and support, and all the hard work they invested in him, he made his biggest dream come true – he became the world number 1 in tennis.
I want to help other kids as well to learn from my example that many things are possible if we only believe in ourselves and work hard to fulfil our dreams. While I’m still young and have a lot of people’s attention, I want to start building my philanthropic legacy. I want to share the focus that is on me with the work my foundation does and help as many kids in Serbia as possible. Through education, they too can be part of our collective effort to decrease poverty and social exclusion.
Novak shared one of the experiences in his philanthropic work that touched him and moved him to put even more efforts into making preschool education available for as many kids as possible:
I met Erhan in one of the kindergartens built by Novak Djokovic Foundation. It was his first week ever in a preschool. He was sitting in a corner playing. He was alone there and I came up to him. I asked him what his favourite book was. He just looked at me. I asked again and then he said: “What is a book?”
As much as this experience startled me it made me more determined to help children have access to the benefits of Early Childhood Development regardless of the social and economic status of their parents.
But it is not only about building kindergartens.
We should make sure that every child, particularly those coming from poor families, get access to quality education early in their lives.
We should make sure that every teacher is well-trained to give them good education.
We want to reach these goals in Serbia and beyond, working together with the World Bank.
This August, Novak Djokovic Foundation and the World Bank partnered up with a goal to promote Early Childhood Development in Serbia and abroad. The joint “Early Wins for Lifelong Returns” initiative combines the Bank’s deep knowledge and programs on early childhood development with the power of Novak Djokovic’s commitment to bring sustained attention to the social and economic benefits of early childhood development (ECD) programs for children around the world. In Serbia, the World Bank – Novak Djokovic Foundation initiative will work together with the Serbian government to level the playing field for young children from poor and disadvantaged families.
Currently, less than half of children in Serbia, aged 3-5 years old, go to preschool. This number is even more startling in the rural areas, and in the poorest households (only 9% of children attend preschool), and informal Roma settlements (only 5.6% of children attend preschool). Addressing this problem has far-reaching consequences for breaking the cycle of poverty and enhancing Serbia’s long-term competitiveness and labor productivity.
Every child has a right to a dream. In every life, this dream can be different. To be a doctor, to be an engineer, or maybe to be a tennis player. But to make a dream come true, a child needs support from early years. My life tells the story that if you have the support you need as a young child you can achieve your dream.
Fulfilling dreams starts with Early Childhood Development and that is why it is so important. Early Childhood Education is the beginning for the lifelong learning which helps us acquire skills to be good doctors, excellent engineers, or world number one tennis players.
Working together, the World Bank and Novak Djokovic Foundation aim to give every child an opportunity to make dreams come true.
See the video in which our Founder shares his views on the importance of investing into Early Childhood Education: