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Montenegro Activate Talks: Innovative approaches to teaching for better learning

PODGORICA, 10 July 2014 - UNICEF Montenegro hosted an "Activate talk" event on innovative approaches to teaching for better learning in Podgorica on Thursday.  

Through this event, Montenegro joined the worldwide celebration of the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"In Montenegro, we have tried to take the lead-in, which is a struggle to ensure that every child in our society goes to school and has the ability within their capacity to learn to their full potential. It’s the beginning of hearing about one of the ways we have harnessed in partnership with actors in the Drama community and people working on disability rights and people in the education sector, how we have harnessed technology to ensure that the children with visual impairments and other impairments can attend school within their local community, UNICEF Montenegro Representative, Benjamin Perks said.  

Conrad Wolfram, Founder of the Computer-based Mathematics, speaking about why a fundamental shift is needed worldwide to make the educational subject of maths computer-based - UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2014 

According to the survey by Conrad Wolfram, the founder of the Computer-based Mathematics, students spend only one fifth of their time in math classes in mathematical thinking, while the rest of the time they do hand calculations. Now, this kind of mainstream math education needs to undergo a fundamental change, as the every-day math has been transformed by computers.

"A key thing to understand is – more practical is more conceptual. In order to be practical about mathematics you need to be highly conceptual. So the two do not diverge, you don’t need one or the other, you need both. And we have a golden opportunity now in the history of mathematics to be able to do both at the same time", Wolfram said.  

Montenegrin university professor Srdjan Kadic talked about a platform that enables making of online educational games.

"Basically, we offer another form of game. Let’s turn that weapon which is now against us, and the time spent in games, to be beneficial for us. In what way? If we adjust the mathematic tasks to an age when a child meets new terms, with the first signs of abstraction, and that is a period from the third to the fifth grade of the primary school, if we adjust that mathematic content so that it is interactive and visually acceptable, than even the children with certain problems - let’s say in reading – will be able to cooperate with the teacher. Such kind of - let’s say – a platform, of an educational game, can provide flexibility and benefits for everyone", Kadic said.

James Arthur, British university professor, talked about character education. "We know from the research also that the parental involvement in their child’s education has a significant effect on educational achievement, but also on the building of their character. We know that fathers play a critical role and that when parents talk more with their children about the things that worry them, that their child is more likely to develop good character", Arthur explained.  

Director of the “Blue Coach” organization, Srdjan Vukcevic, presented the programme “Smart Steps” aimed at building relationships between families, educators and communities in order to support children’s social and emotional development and academic achievement.

"One needs to work hard for everything that appears to be valuable in one’s life. So, our message that was also at the basis of everything – two pillars, two blocks that created all habits, "Smart steps"… are the diligence on one side, and the enthusiasm on the other", Vukcevic added. 

Young innovator Nikola Rasovic, presented his low-cost prototype of a system that allows people who cannot move their hands and legs to control with their eyes any kind of device such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Nikolina Arapovic, a student with visual impairments, describing the change that Daisy books make in children’s lives - UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2014


“In this system, I have integrated a microphone so that the people who have problems with their eyesight will be able to control devices by using voice commands. In the end, let me tell you, success depends not on what God has given us but it depends on what we do with it", Rasovic said.

Prominent Montenegrin actress Dubravka Drakic talked about the production of the first Daisy primary school textbooks in Montenegro for inclusive education of students with visual impairments.

"Daisy format is very specific in that it allows children to follow the material from their textbooks, not only in the audio format, but also in a format on special computers which are provided and which are now in the Resource Centre. I have to say that this is an innovation, not only because of the children from the Resource Centre, but also because of the involvement of us from the Faculty of Drama Arts. This is really the first time that we have a textbook in this format", Drakic said.  

Nikolina Arapovic, a student with visual impairments, described the change that Daisy books make in children’s lives.

"See my textbook... It is bloated and heavy, as well as all Braille's books. And then I found out that the Resource Center for Children and Youth Podgorica, in cooperation with the Institute for textbooks and teaching aids, the Faculty of Drama Arts in Cetinje, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, began making a textbook in Daisy format. Since the textbooks for sixth and seventh grade are not printed yet, I listened the novel by Sergei Yesenin "Bobil and the friend" from the texbook for the fifth grade. I thought it was nice that after the exhausting classes in the school I do not have to sit at the table and learn, because Braille's books could only be read in that way", Arapovic said.  

Throughout 2014, which UNICEF declared to be the Year of Innovation for Equity, “Activate Talks” are held worldwide in order for UNICEF to bring together change makers from all walks of life to rethink and rework how to deliver results for the most vulnerable children.



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