Migrant/refugee children’s first day at First Ilidža Primary School

Migrant/refugee children start first day at school and get acquainted with their new surroundings and colleagues.

Benjamin Omerbegović for UNICEF
Prvi dan djece izbjeglica i migranata u školi

26 December 2018

Today, the UNICEF team along with partners from World Vision visited  First Ilidža Primary School to follow the first day at school of 15 migrant/refugee kids. First Ilidža Primary School is the first school in Bosnia and Herzegovina to have started with the organized integration of these children into school life.

“The children themselves are overjoyed at coming to school and in their orientation visit even sang traditional songs of joy” said school director Arif Ćelović.

The children come from several countries such as Iraq, Iran, Syria and others. They are integrated in all classes with other children and will follow the regular curriculum. In addition to this they will have special workshops to learn the Bosnian language as well as workshops to help children who have suffered through trauma.

The school is among the few who made additional efforts to ensure inclusion and education for these children. Asked to share their advice for other schools, the director commented”: "We can always give advice but it also depends on the character of the persons themselves.  The most important thing is to show humanity and empathy - the school is not just made up of the physical elements such as the building, but also the people as well” before adding, “it is vital to discard all aspects of prejudice. All children, and people in general, should be considered as equals, and if we accept that then there won’t be any problems.”

Djeca izbjeglice i migranti počinju prvi dan u školi upoznavanjem sa novom okolinom i školskim drugovima.
Djeca izbjeglice i migranti počinju prvi dan u školi upoznavanjem sa novom okolinom i školskim drugovima.

The new pupils are ecstatic with their new school, and teachers of the school are happy about the way school students accepted new friends.

Ramiz Mulavdić, teacher of the 5th grade mathematics class said: “There was a test planned for today and the new children got a modified version to evaluate at what level they were. Their results pleasantly surprised me - they possessed a great degree of knowledge”.

UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Geeta Narayan, during the visit to the school said that it is necessary for the entire community to be involved in ensuring child receives quality education, and stressed: "We all contribute something from our expertise and experience and it is very important and great that here we all came together to help these children, as well as current pupils, to have the best possible education and life, and to be integrated into society.”

Whilst visiting the classrooms it was more than apparent that the new students were already being included. New students even stimulated their peers to showcase their abilities, such as foreign language skills, in order to best facilitate and get to know their new friends.

The inclusion of migrants/refugee children is done with the support of UNICEF, and partners from World Vision Bosnia and Herzegovina, Save the Children in the North West Balkans and the Ministry of Education, Science and Youth of the Sarajevo Canton.