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Improving the Life-Chances for Children Everywhere

by , Posted on 26th Sep 2017
September issue of the Diplomacy & Commerce magazine featured the 70th anniversary of the UNICEF’s efforts in former Yugoslavia and Republic of Serbia. For this occasion, our Global CEO Alberto Lidji spoke about our partnership and cooperation with the UNICEF.

NDF and UNICEF are closely collaborating on strengthening the capacities and access to pre-school education for the children in Serbia. UNICEF has been an important partner to NDF.
What led you to decide to establish close cooperation with UNICEF?
The Novak Djokovic Foundation (NDF) was founded in 2007 with the mission to give children from disadvantaged communities an equal chance to grow up, learn and develop into productive citizens through early education. At the beginning of his engagement with UNICEF, Novak visited a newly opened nursery in Smederevo, where he learned more about the benefits of an inclusive early childhood education programme, which influenced the work of the Novak Djokovic Foundation. The Foundation has supported numerous constructions of nurseries and preschools in low-income communities in Serbia and has worked with UNICEF and other partners in the field to improve early childhood education curriculum and community outreach. UNICEF has been an important partner to NDF.
Which programmes do you jointly implement?
NDF and UNICEF closely collaborate on strengthening the capacities and access to pre-school education for the children in Serbia. Unfortunately, Serbia has low enrollment rates in pre-school education and together with UNICEF and other non-profit organizations, we work to help the education system in Serbia and give children a better chance for the future. The Foundation had the pleasure of also supporting UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Service in modelling an in novative family outreach service that reaches the most disadvantaged families with young children living in urban areas across Serbia. The service is now in the process of becoming part of the regular child protection system in Serbia.
Why is it important for the Foundation to implement programmes that support early childhood development?
NDF believes that every child should have equal access to a quality preschool education. Serbia has one of the lowest rates of participation in pre-school education in Europe. Participation of children from ethnic minorities, children living in poverty or children with special needs and disabilities is even lower. All children have the right to a good start in life. We know that children’s earliest experiences have a tremendous impact later in life. Access to education programmes is needed to lay a solid foundation for a child’s early development and for their strong performance in school and later in life.
What are the Foundation’s priorities in the coming period, especially regarding its cooperation with UNICEF?
Our upcoming priorities are focused on the improvement of the conditions in which children in Serbia live, develop, learn and grow. We also aim to collaborate with UNICEF globally in spreading the message to policymakers and the general public that early years matter. It is through collaboration that truly meaningful change can be achieved. We are delighted to count UNICEF as a key partner and to be working closely with others, such as the World Bank, Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child and other foundations, corporations and individuals to improve the life-chances for children everywhere.
You can access the entire Diplomacy & Commerce issue dedicated to the UNICEF’s anniversary here.

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