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Education for minorities in Serbia
Education for Roma - for a better start into a better life


The Roma population as well as some other of the altogether 20 recognized “national minorities” are in a difficult situation in Serbia - as in the neighboring countries -, both economically and socially. Exclusion and discrimination persist, in particular with regard to housing and access to basic services such as health and education. The global economic crisis is likely to worsen the living conditions and prospects of marginalized groups. SDC emphasizes therefore on the inclusion of minorities in general and the Roma in particular in the public education system.

In Serbia, the lack of a primary school education is one of the major determinants of life-long poverty. The Serbian government estimates that 80,000 primary-school-aged children (5%) do not attend school. Most of these children are from the Roma minority or are disabled. 63% of Roma parents did not themselves have access to primary education, which means that Roma children have a disadvantage from the start. In addition, they do not often speak Serbian. This lack of primary education is one of the major causes of poverty in Serbia and Montenegro.

This joint programme is run with the following three partner organizations: Red Cross, UNICEF, and the NGO Pomoc Deci. Through this collaboration, several models of education and appropriate institutional frameworks have been developed. They proof to effectively and sustainably include marginalised children into the mainstream education. The joint programme will work in three main directions. Firstly, to continue to deliver services which support marginalised children to participate fully in pre-school and primary education. Secondly, to support the institutionalisation of these services at municipal level, so that the municipal administration and related organisations can continue to fund and support continuation of efforts to integrate all children into the education system. Thirdly, to support reforms at the national level to ensure that the government provides a framework of funding and institutional support that further develops inclusive and child-centred education.

Results to be achieved during the project period

  • Inclusive Education:
    Over 15 000 direct beneficiaries (Roma and marginalised groups) supported through this programme. Out of it, 97% of children enrolled and remain in schools. Enrollment in secondary school has increased to 20%.
  • Human capital development:
    Over 500 teachers from preschool/elementary schools trained in inclusive and active learning methods. Partner's teachers training programmes accredited and offered to over 80'000 teachers. More than 1000 Roma adults trained through functional adult education. About 100 children/youth living with disabilities acquired work related skills, aiming social inclusion
  • Job creation:
    Direct impact with more then 30 Roma teacher's assistants trained and employed, increased competitiveness of youth living with disabilities on the market, and trained adults.
  • Legislature:
    New National Law on basic education designed as per inclusive approach and introduced all models of good practise realised in the programme at the local level.
  • Community mobilisation and social inclusion:
    Increased visibility and motivation of both of Roma and local communities to cooperate/ work together. Accordingly, municipalities increased their financial contribution towards the social inclusion, thus encouraging Roma and marginalised population to actively take part in the community life.
blank The project in brief

Cooperation with Eastern Europe


Country / Region

Red Cross,
NGO Pomoc Deci

Project target
Educational reforms within the context of four major policy frameworks:
- EU accession,
- the MDGs,
- the Poverty Reduction Strategy and - the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015,
These frameworks emphasise the need of ensuring that the poorest are included into the educational system.

Target group
5’000 children in 60 municipalities

CHF 6'000’000

2009 - 2013

Swiss Cooperation Office in Serbia