46 schools in Serbia received equipment for the realization of teaching and school projects with the topic of air quality improvement

UNICEF and the Government of Norway for better air quality

11 October 2022
STEM packages cacak
UNICEF Srbija/2022/Shubuckl

Cacak, October 11, 2022 The elementary school "Saint Sava" from Cacak received today from UNICEF a set of teaching aids for STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and for developing school projects in the field of air quality and environmental protection. This school is one of 46 schools in Serbia that received the kits as a part of the project "Schools for better air quality" implemented by UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia and with financial support of the Government of Norway.

The kits were carefully created based on a previous survey among teachers and students from all 46 schools. Each kit contains an educational weather station and a soil pollution detection kit, and other teaching aids are selected based on the individual needs of the schools. With the help of these educational kits, interdisciplinary courses created for students, and the support teachers receive through training and mentoring, each school will design and implement five projects on the topic of air pollution, relying on the official curricula of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, and computer science. Around 9,000 primary and secondary school children in 15 local governments across Serbia will be involved in the implementation of the projects.

“UNICEF and the Kingdom of Norway, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and in cooperation with local communities, work together to raise awareness among school-age children and adolescents, their parents, and teachers, about the levels of air pollution and its harmful effects on health and wellbeing, through promoting air quality monitoring, STEM education, and non-formal education. With the help of the educational kits that we have provided to schools, teachers, children, and young people will have the opportunity to learn in practice in a creative and fun way, through research, experiments, and cooperation, what are the causes and consequences of pollution, as well as to explore and propose solutions to reduce and prevent pollution.” said Yosi Echeverry Burckhardt, UNICEF Serbia Deputy Representative.

World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that in 2016 air pollution was responsible for around 550,000 premature deaths in European region, of which more than 6,000 were attributed to air pollution in Serbia.

Every day around 93 per cent of the world’s children under the age of 15 breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health at serious risk. Air pollution is linked with chronic respiratory conditions among children, such as bronchitis and asthma. Children under five are the most vulnerable, as they take in more air proportionally to their weight than adults.

"I would like to thank UNICEF and the Government of Norway for their support in the implementation of STEM teaching and education on the topic of environmental protection. Project activities that will be implemented with the help of educational kits will enable teachers and students to implement interdisciplinary teaching and thus encourage the development of cross-curricular competencies among school children, especially those related to a responsible attitude towards the environment and health", said Sladjana Parezanovic, head of the School Administration Cacak.

Director of "Saint Sava" Primary School in Cacak, Miroslav Mandic, added: "The equipment has a wide range of applications, but it is primarily related to STEM subjects. As part of the project, we have already started practical teaching with the students on ongoing environmental and climate challenges, through which students apply knowledge from different subjects and thus come to conclusions and potential solutions. We noticed an increased motivation in both children and teachers due to the research method of work, and we expect a higher percentage of knowledge acquisition compared to classical teaching."

Distribution of educational kits was carried out in cooperation with the Digital Serbia Initiative, the Center for the Promotion of Science, and the Petlja Foundation as part of the "Schools for Better Air Quality" project. The project goal is to familiarize children and young people with the topic of air quality, and the impact of pollution and climate change on their health and the well-being of their immediate environment. The aim of UNICEF is that by year 2023 children, adolescents, and their parents in at least 15 municipalities in Serbia are more aware of the status of air pollution in their local community, and an enabling environment that affects evidence-based, youth-participative changes to local policies, budgets, and programmes, prioritizing the best interest of children is created in at least 3 municipalities.

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