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Developing socio-emotional skills within the mainstream education system

BAR, 25 May 2018 – It is not enough for a good student just to learn the lessons assigned to them. In addition to knowledge, a successful student should have certain virtues and values. Students at the “Niko Rolovic” Gymnasium in Bar, who participated in the programme for developing socio-emotional skills within the mainstream education, understand this point well.

UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Afshan Khan talking to students from Gymnasium in Bar in May 2018, UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2018

Tolerance, creativity, empathy and teamwork are some of the values and virtues which they discussed.

As far as 17-year-old Bogdan Žižić is concerned, these were the most interesting classes during the school year. They had a positive impact on the overall classroom atmosphere.

"The situation in our class is much better now. We are more honest towards each other. We help each other more than before this programme started," Bogdan explains.

Sixteen-year-old Staša Buntić recommends the workshops on socio-emotional skills because they bring schoolmates closer to each other. Seventeen-year-old Mustafa Ramović agrees with her: "These workshops have encouraged us to think more about each other. Our relationships with each other have become much better."

Sixteen-year-old Maša Gačević found the creativity workshops to be most interesting, "because, as a team, we managed to create something that is ours".

During her first visit to Montenegro, the UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, visited students from this gymnasium. She said that programmes like this one could be useful in other countries in the region as well.

"I am really inspired by what you are doing, by what the teachers are bringing together, by the programme of the Ministry of Education and I am hoping this is something we can replicate in other countries in the region. Thank you for what you are doing. We are learning from you. I am confident that with students like you the next generation of Montenegrin leaders will be leaders that will bring peace and prosperity to this country," Khan said.

The Deputy Minister of Education, Arijana Nikolić Vučinić, pointed out that these workshops have strengthened the quality of education. "We should allow children to develop socio-emotional skills, non-cognitive skills, everything which will help them later become people who will enter the labour market with all the skills that are needed," Vučinić explained.

During Regional Director's visit, a Gymnasium student speaking about socio-emotional skills in Bar in May 2018, UNICEF Montenegro / Dusko Miljanic / 2018

The UNICEF Representative to Montenegro, Osama Khogali, invited young people to apply the virtues and values they have learned outside school as well: "This conversation should not end in schools, but it should prepare you to take on the role of leaders in your communities, among your friends and peers."

English language teacher Ana Đurović said that the workshops had helped the teachers to get to know their students better: "I know them not only from the perspective of how well they are learning English language, but I have also got to know more about them."

The students also learned about virtues and values through analysis of literary works.

"They are not thinking only about what Anna Karenina did or why a literary figure did or did not do something. They are rather thinking – what would I do? That is the ‘to be or not to be’ question in their lives," explains Marica Nikitović, a literature teacher from the Bar gymnasium.

This school’s principal, Marija Đonović, believes that this programme should be implemented in all schools: "It would really be wonderful to expand this programme to all schools and teachers. Knowledge is available to our children at every step and teachers have to teach them all the skills they need for life."

With UNICEF’s support, this programme for developing socio-emotional skills within the mainstream education system has been piloted in 20 schools in Montenegro since 2015.



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