Elementary school “Ilija Birčanin” from Belgrade

Primary school „Ilija Bircanin“ was built 55 years ago in Belgrade, in the municipality Zemun. It is considered to be a large school – about 1200 pupils and over 100 employees. This school is situated in a specific multietnic suburb and educates children of different social, confessional and ethnic origin. In this suburb there is a large number of Roma people displaced from unhygienic settlements in the last ten years, as well as a small number of Muslim people that moved here from Kosovo because of the war. The school and its employees make effort to help them integrate into the society providing them support and empowering them through workshops and extracurricular activities. Apart from regular primary education, our school and its employees offer support to the children in socially marginalized groups taking part in different projects and cooperation with other instituions in the area of education, culture and art. The aim is that as many children as possible finish primary school and enroll the secondary ones.

As an organisation, our school participated in the project „Prevention of child marriages“ led by Unicef, but also some of our employees have participated in different projects as individuals. The project „Prevention of child marriages“ aimed at raising awareness of child marriages in the Roma community in Serbia, actively working on reducing the numbers and aiming towards completly abandoning the practice. A couple of colleagues participated in the project „Empowering minorities“ which was supported by the European Commision under Erasmus + programme. This project took place last year and they were able to learn a lot about different empowering tools on how to work on prevention of violence, marginalization, social exclusion and improving communication, cooperation, community building, overcoming social anxiety, etc. Given the context, we would be honoured to participate in the project.

Colleagues who would represent our organisation are teachers of language and literature. Both have long experience in working with children from sensitive groups as well as with children in the process of inclusion. Sonja Bačilović is an English language teacher and Ana Marinović teaches Serbian language and literature. Both teach citizen’s education, as well. Sonja Bačilović is a member of the school team for prevention of early marriages and the school team which deals with the violence at school. She was part of the project led by Unicef on the topic of prevention of early marriages and abandoning school and one of the two teachers who participated in the above mentioned „Empowering minorities“ project. Through different workshops with her students, Ana Marinović has organized peer education on respecting difference and workshops on traditional ways of education and stereotypes. She has attended several workshops and seminars on the topic of inclusive education and working with children with specific needs.

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