Within the framework of the Support Network for Roma Children of the Early Age in Serbia-REYNS in March 2017 in five different cities in Serbia, a number of meetings with relevant actors of advocacy and implementation of local education policies, primarily those related to pre-school and children of early age, were realized.
In Kragujevac, Krusevac, Kraljevo, Nis and Novi Sad, within the framework of the “Local Initiative to Support the Education of Children from Sensitive Social Groups at an Early Age” through the developed advocacy component of the REYNS network in Serbia, information was exchanged in various fields of activity: local self-governments Education, educational, health and social welfare institutions, but also other organizations and individuals who have an active role and can contribute to the process of advocacy and implementation of educational policies aimed at increasing the inclusion of children from vulnerable social groups and increasing the quality and availability of early development programs. These activities stimulate the development of intersectional approach and mutual cooperation of all relevant actors at the local and national level in order to use the resources available to contribute to the improvement of early development in Serbia, putting emphasis on children from socially sensitive groups.
The activities implemented in five different local environments have enabled the presentation of existing and implemented early-implemented Initiative and Programs that deliver significant results. One of the early development programs for Roma children and families is the program of the Roma Education Fund “Toys Library – Your Space for Development”, which is a continuation of the Mother and Child Education Program, which is being implemented in Serbia for the past five years. Realizators of this program, the “Friendship Hand” organization from Kraljevo, “Romani cikna” from Kruševac, “Little Happy Colony” from Novi Sad, “Indigo” from Niš and the Roma Romani Educational and Cultural Community presented their activities and significant results by an emphasis on the resources that The Toys Libraries have and which represent a significant segment of support for Roma children not included in any form of systematic education, and who are coming from highly unstable settings. These Toys Libraries become a significant resource center in their local environments.
A very important component of support for Roma children and the families, primarily because of the large regional distribution, but also because of the different segments of support developed within it, is also the “Initiative to Support the Development and Learning of Children from the Roma National Minority of the Early Age in Serbia” supported by Foundation for Open Society in London, implemented in cooperation with 15 organizations and 16 preschool institutions in different locations in Serbia. Through various support components and strengthening the intersectional co-operation. This Initiative will encompass all those spheres that are important for increasing the availability and quality of parental practices and competences, as well as early childhood programs within the pre-school system of education with continuous cooperation and joint action of the civil sector and institutions in education.
In line with the project of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia with the support of the World Bank “Inclusive Preschool Education and Education in Serbia” . In line with the set goals of the project, the national coordinator of the REYNS network pointed out that the involvement of all members of the REYNS network in the Local Initiative, Professional structure and regional representation are of great importance for the process of mapping the number of Roma children and their educational needs, the existing support services and the exchange of service and other information of importance in order to represent the interests of children from socially sensitive groups, and to increase fairness in the advocacy process An early-development policy that will be an integral component of this project.
“The early childhood support network in Serbia – REYNS is becoming a really important carrier of positive changes in the field of early development and education that primarily relates to Roma children” is one of the conclusions of the gathered actors.