Vladicin Han – Initial State
[title size=”2″]General information[/title]
Vladicin Han municipality belongs to the Pcinja District. It is located on Corridor 10, halfway between Belgrade and Thessaloniki, at the southern exit of Grdelica gorge. With 51 villages, it covers an area of 366 km2, and according to the 2012 census, it has 20,587 inhabitants. The population growth rate is -10. In relation to the level of economic development, Vladicin Han belongs to a group of devastated areas (the development level is less than 50% of the national average). The average salary is RSD 27,703 and only 14,8% of the population are employed.
[title size=”2″]Status of Preschool Education and Upbringing[/title]
Vladicin Han has a Local plan of action for children (LPA), in which special emphasis is on child poverty reduction. This plan includes the following elements: helping families in rural areas to exercise their rights in the field of child and social protection; supporting poor families in the process of economic independence; ensuring a healthy life for children starting from birth (through promotion of healthy life style and nutrition of pregnant women, healthy food for children and reduction of spine deformity and incorrect posture in children, promotion of healthy life style in children and adolescents through the prevention of smoking, use of alcohol, reduction of the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among youth and adolescents). The Local Action Plan focus is on providing support to the development of community centers (centers for non-formal and compensatory education). To this end, the municipality of Vladicin Han has been implementing programs in the last couple of years, targeting the Roma population in support of education. The programs designed in cooperation with the UNICEF are focused on helping school children and youth to overcome problems they face during the education process.
The Plan also focuses on improving the position and the rights of children with disabilities and their integration into society, improving the position of children without parental care, establishing a mechanism (system) to protect children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence, better informing of the public about children and children’s rights, improving awareness of children and their greater participation in the media. Special emphasis is on ensuring the availability and increase of the coverage of young children with quality preschool education and upbringing. RSD 3,210,000 have been provided for the LPA implementation.
For the implementation of preschool education and upbringing project, the municipality allocates 37.98% of the budget resources designated for education. Most of it is for salaries of employees, while RSD 114,000 go for the implementation of training programs.
The local government sees the insufficient capacity of existing facilities and their inadequate deployment (they aren’t available where there are interested children and families) as the biggest challenges in the area of preschool education and upbringing. In addition to that, Vladicin Han is geographically scattered, and has a poor transport infrastructure. The additional obstacle is high unemployment rate of parents, family poverty and inability to pay for services / programs, as well as the inability of the municipality to provide subsidies for children / parents from vulnerable social groups.
The representatives of the local government and Preschool Institution “Pcelica” (Little bee) consider children from the Roma community and children with disabilities the most vulnerable groups. 693 children aged 3-5,5 years live in the municipality area (in villages). Only 24% of them are covered with preschool education. 36,76% of children that are not enrolled are Roma children, 5,71% are children with disabilities, and 8,95% are children from extremely poor families.
The additional problem for children and families from vulnerable groups are the lack of understanding of the environment, lack of adequate infrastructure which would provide greater accessibility, and also lack of parents’ awareness about the importance of inclusion in preschool programs.
[title size=”2″]Coverage of children enrolled in preschool[/title]
When taking into account all available data, about 9,83% of children aged 3-4 years, and 14,44% of children aged 4-5,5 years, are covered with preschool education. 27,85% of them are Roma children, and 2,5% are children with disabilities.
69 children aged 3-5,5 years are enrolled in Preschool Institution “Pcelica”, which is 10 above the standard, and 28 children are on the waiting list. 198 children are enrolled in the Preparatory Preschool Program (PPP). About 86% of the parents pay the full cost of kindergarten, that is RSD 2,500 RSD.
[title size=”2″]Preschool Institution “Pcelica”[/title]
PI “Pcelica” consists of a combined facility (nursery and kindergarten) with four educational groups and 11 regional departments implementing the preschool program.
There are 27 employees in the educational process. 25 of them are educators (24 with college degree and one with university degree), one professional collaborator (part-time) and one education pedagogy assistant. Educational work is carried out according to the model B of the basis of the educational program for children aged 3-7 years.
In the past two years, the employees have been through the training program. They attended seminars on various topics: “Kindergarten and environment – learning in authentic environment”, “Power of Words”, “I’m fine where I am”, “Healthy Lifestyles”.
The Preschool Institution “Pcelica” took part in realization of the DILS project “Education Inclusion of Roma” (2011-2013) and “Education for All” (2011).
[title size=”2″]Collaboration with parents[/title]
There are no parent associations in Vladicin Han, nor special support programs for children and their families.
Representatives of parents of children from vulnerable groups are present in the Parent Council, but they are not part of the PI Board of Directors. Collaboration with parents is conducted through daily informal conversations and parent meetings.
[title size=”2″]Motivation for participation in the project[/title]
Representatives of the PI believe that the project will contribute to: a) the greater cover of children with preschool education; b) better preparation of children from vulnerable groups for inclusion into educational system; c) the prevention of segregation, discrimination against children on any grounds; g) overcoming barriers and differences between different social groups in the local community. It should also contribute to the raise of competence of employees and mobilisation of institutions and individuals at the local level who work with young children to create stimulating environment for growing up and development of the youngest.
As main reasons to patricipate in the project “Schools of Life”, the PI states: the opportunity to improve the conditions in which children from rural and ethnically diverse communities grow up; developing self-esteem in children and providing space for the implementation of preschool programs for children aged 3-5,5 years through reconstruction and renovation of existing facilities.
The PI expects that the project will contribute to the inclusion of a greater number of children from rural areas aged 3-5 years, participation of parents and other relevant associates in creation and implementation of the “Schools of Life” programs, and that, through a variety of seminars and trainings, it will contribute to the raise of competence of adults working with children. Being a responsible partner, the PI “Pcelica” sees its role in supporting professionals from the institution, technical and human resources.