Merosina – Initial state
[title size=”2″]General information[/title]
Merosina municipality is located in the southeastern part of central Serbia. It belongs to the Nisava District, covering an area of 193m2 and according to the most recent census it has 13,848 inhabitants. The population growth rate is -10. In relation to the level of economic and political development, Merosina belongs to a group of devastated areas (the development level is less than 50% of the national average). The average salary in 2012 was RSD 25,099.00, and only 9.2% of the population are employed.
[title size=”2″]Status of Preschool Education and Upbringing[/title]
Merosina has no local plan of action for children, but the municipal government has shown strong commitment to meet the needs of young children and their families. For the implementation of preschool education and upbringing project in 2014, the municipality plans to allocate 45% of the budget resources designated for education. In addition to the salaries of employees, 4,4% should be reserved for investments into the Preschool Institution capacities. No funds have been anticipated for the professional development of employees.
In addition to the lack of capacity to include more children, the local government thinks the main problems for larger inclusion into the preschool system are: unemployment of parents, poverty and lack of awareness about the importance of including children in preschool programs.
The most vulnerable groups are children from the Roma community and children with disabilities. The main strategic guidelines for increasing the coverage of Roma children are defined through local Action Plan for Improvement of Roma Education (2011-2014). The municipality and Preschool Institution took part in realization of the project “Education Inclusion of Roma” (2010).
The municipality allocates funds for one-time financial support to children without parental care and children from families with lower income. At the initiative of the local Office for Economic Development, the establishment of a Fund for children’s health care is underway.
[title size=”2″]Coverage of children enrolled in preschool[/title]
The National Statistics Office data show that only 9,6 % of children aged 3-5,5 years are enrolled in preschool education programs.
There are about 900 children under 7 years of age in Merosina municipality. The Preschool Institution has no capacity for coverage of children under 3 years of age, and only 18 children aged 3-5,5 years attend kindergarten in Merosina. 134 children are enrolled in the Preparatory Preschool Program (PPP) in the entire territory of Merosina.
In Merosina and 26 settlements of the municipality, there are 358 children aged 3-5,5 years, that are not included in preschool programs. 31,28% of them are Roma children, 0,60% are children with disabilities, and 39,10% are children from poor families.
The total current price for full-day kindergarten program for all families is RSD 3,500.00. It is free for the third and fourth child.
[title size=”2″]Preschool Institution “Poletarac”[/title]
PI “Poletarac” consists of a central building with two educational groups (mixed and PPP) and nine other educational groups in surrounding villages where the preschool program is being implemented. Two of those groups implement the preschool program in kindergarten buildings, while the other seven are in school departments.
There are 15 employees, 13 of them are educators (one with a high school degree, seven with college degree and five with university degree), and two are professional collaborators (psychologist and pedagogue). Apart from HACCP and fire safety trainings for employees, other professional trainings have not been organised.
Educational work is carried out according to the model B of the basis of the educational program for children aged 3-7 years. The Preschool Institution “Poletarac” took part in realization of the DILS project “Education Inclusion of Roma”.
[title size=”2″]Collaboration with parents[/title]
Collaboration with parents is conducted through daily exchange of information on the progress of children through parents’ board, meetings or individual counseling work with parents, and also through creative, educational workshops and lectures for parents. Parents are involved in the program for the protection of children from violence, they are part of the team for inclusive education, for development planning and for self-evaluation of the institution operation quality. They take part in choosing the right insurance for children, destinations for excursions and picnics, menu for children’s meals, etc.
There are no parent associations in Merosina. There are representatives of parents of children from vulnerable groups in the PI Board of Directors, but they are not part of the Parent Council.
[title size=”2″]Motivation for participation in the project[/title]
As main reasons to patricipate in the project “Schools of Life”, the PI states: the possibility of expanding the capacity of the institution and increasing the coverage of children aged 3-5,5 years, enriching the physical environment for children’s development and supporting the development of specific and specialized programs.
The PI expects that the project will contribute to the greater availability of programs for children in rural areas. As its contribution to the project, the PI Poletarac will provide all relevant information, involve all employees and direct efforts towards achieving the objectives and organising the planned activities.