Extended daycare program at school for children from poor families in Prutače
BRČKO, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 14 November 2012 - Children from poor families living in Prutače settlement near Brčko, have recently been able to take part in an extended daycare program.
The extended two-hour daily daycare services started from October and will last until the end of the current school year. Activities from different school clubs, as well as educative and supplementary classes, placing special emphasis on literacy programmes will be available. They are supported by school teachers and representatives from the Department for Education of Brčko District.
Pupils or students from Prutače School often come from dilapidated houses and buildings, living under difficult conditions. In this settlement, fires caused accidents are frequent occurrences as many of the houses have poor electricity installations.
“I am glad that the need for this kind of an extended daycare program has been finally recognized. What is also needed is the education of parents, starting from the enhancement of their literacy to the development and encouragement of good hygiene habits. Even though many parents in the settlement are uneducated, they want to change and be able to contribute to a better life quality of their families,” said Sabina Ikanović, a psychologist in the 9th Primary School.
The help from UNICEF came at the right moment and so did the Brčko District Government decision to change this situation. The conditions in this school are very difficult. The school principal is fully involved in the project and the progress was achieved in many areas. Following the numerous conversations, the support from the students` mother for the extended daycare activities was secured. Parents could also receive an education alongside their children which reduced the overall rate of adult illiteracy in this settlement. The representatives of the Parents’ Council also came forward and offered their support to the Project, teacher are willing to work two extra hours without pay, and representatives of the private sector also came forward offering to help.
“Our goal for the start of the center’s operations is to secure free meals for the children, making sure that they receive adequate food as this has been an important motive for the parents to support the project”, said Mara Matkić, Head of the sub-Department for Preschool and Primary Education in the Brčko District.
The settlement of Prutače came into existence during the war in the country in 1994 and 1995. It was built primarily to accommodate internally displaced families. After the war, the majority of those families returned to their homes while Roma families occupied those vacated facilities. Nowadays, Roma people constitute majority of population in this settlement. A rather large number of Roma families frequently migrate to other countries, while other Roma’s periodically inhabit the settlement usually from other parts of BIH and neighboring countries. These migrations cause changes in the organization of classes in the 9th Primary School as the number and structure of students change.
“We have 11, 12, 15 and 16-year old children in the 5th grade, and that is because many of them do not attend classes on a regular basis,” explained the 9th Primary School Principal Adnan Kurtalić.
Kurtalic is satisfied with the support provided by the project and believes that it stands a good chance of becoming fully sustainable providing additional targeted support. One particularly important fact is the need for early detection and treatment of children with impairments.
The expert team of the Center for Mental Health in Brčko District will provide significant support and closely cooperate with the school teachers. This will further encourage much needed interdisciplinary approach and requirements necessary for early detection and treatment of children with impairments. The program is the result of joint efforts and contributions of school and Brčko District Government representatives.
With the support of UNICEF and the European Union, technical support is provided and necessary equipment and didactic material procured for initiation of this service while the Brčko District Government allocated funds for the renovation of premises and for the work of teachers and the expert team.
In addition, to the regular activities that will be implemented during this two-month project, the plan is also to hold three one-day workshops for all 88 students attending the 9th Primary School on the subjects important for their proper growth and development. In addition to the improvement of reading and writing skills, the recommendations will be made about hygiene and healthy eating habits. Creative workshops will be organized that will provide for children’s artistic expression.
The professional team from the Center for Mental Health will take part in the organization of these workshops, as well as the lecturers from the partner non-governmental organization PRONI from Brčko.
Aida Bričić, a teacher, said she and her colleagues are fully aware of the importance of this project and she is happy to contribute to it. “The children will spend less time in the street and the teachers will work more closely with them. We are aware of their frequent misbehaviors and use of bad language. We all need to work together to change that.”
The final stage of the project’s implementation is reserved for the school event during which the students will exhibit their art work and receive certificates of appreciation for the work they did. The purpose of this event is to motivate the students and their parents to become more involved in the school’s activities in future.
Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System in BiH is a joint program supported by the EU and UNICEF, with the participation of relevant ministries from all levels in BIH. The EU has been financing this project since 2008 from the IPA funds in the amount of 4.1 million Euros. The purpose of the project is to facilitate the development of the system which will provide for an adequate social protection policy and social protection and inclusion of children and their families.