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Motivating children refugees to continue their education in Serbia

Text: APC  Photo: APC

Sjenica, July 24, 2019 – During the summer break, the Asylum Protection Center team consisting of a social worker, pedagogue and cultural mediator is conducting workshops in Sjenica which are tackling the topic of education in Serbia.

Since the turnout of refugee children attending the Technical School in Sjenica in the second half of this year was very small, and the longest that the children stayed in school was six weeks, our team conducted workshops aimed at examining the problems that led to a lack of motivation for going to school. To examine the problems that these mostly unaccompanied minors encountered during integration in our education system, APC psychosocial team designed and implemented a workshop that should help children identify specific problems and find ways to overcome those problems, but also to support and motivate them to continue their education in Serbia.

During the workshop, children and young refugees accommodated in the camp in Sjenica shared with team that the most common problems they are encountering are lack of school supplies, lack of technical information (when the classes start, do they change classrooms, how long the classed will last), lack of information on socially acceptable school behavior and the absence of a snack/lunch while at school. One of the participants shared with us that he did not even know what to wear until the day before school, he was not sure whether the children in Serbia were wearing uniforms or if there was some way of dressing for school. Integrating refugee children into school can be extremely challenging at first. The reasons for this are the new environment, lack of knowledge of the language, unresolved expectations, especially with unaccompanied minors who lack parental support, which should be provided by guardians and other persons in their surroundings.

As the benefits of schooling in Serbia, children and young people from Sjenica emphasized meeting with peers from Sjenica, learning about the new culture and school system, learning the language, getting the additional support from teachers and professional staff at the school.

When asked what they would like to say to those who may influence their education in Serbia, participants from the workshop in the camp in Sjenica stated that they would like to be provided with additional support, to visit the school before they start attending it, to get acquainted with the headmaster and some of the professional associates they could turn to for help, and most of all, to be patient with them, especially at first, until they can manage themselves at school.

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