REYN Serbia

Roma Population

According to the last census from 2011, 147 604 Roma citizens were registered, which is 2.1% of the population in the territory of the Republic of Serbia. Other non-empirical sources research indicates that up to 500,000 Roma live in Serbia. Given that the true number of Roma in Serbia is not known, the number of children and youth, which should be schooling was calculated based on the application of the estimated age structure to the total number of Roma determined by the 2011 Census. This is how the age group was estimated:

– preschool age (up to 6 years of age) of about 70 000 Roma,

– age group from 7 to 14year (age of primary school students) of about 74 000 Roma,

– age group from 15 to 19 year (high school students) of about 41 000 Roma.

Main Goal

The main focus of REYNS in Serbia is to contribute to a better and more fair situation for Roma children, thanks to the application of the latest knowledge in the field of early childhood development. Developing responsibility of individuals and professionals for creating opportunities for equal access to quality education is the type of support that REYNS values. It also encourages the creation of a stimulating environment in which Roma children are able to fully develop their capacities and become equal members of the community. We want REYNS to become a significant factor in improving the early development of Roma children, and to promote respect for diversity and equity.

Main Challenges

The Roma population in Serbia continues to face limited access to opportunities in all aspects of human development, from basic rights, through health, education, housing, employment to living standards.

  • Only 7,4 % of Roma children (age 0 – 5.5)  attended preschool institutions in 2019/20 school year.
  • 80% of Roma children are included in the obligatory preparatory preschool program (5.5-6.5 years).
  • 85% of Roma children are enrolled in primary school.
  • Primary school completion rate, in the general population is 99% and only 64% in the Roma population.
  • Despite the significant improvements, more than a third of marginalized Roma aged 18-21 do not have primary schooling.
  • Marginalized Roma men and women aged 18-24 are almost half as likely to be involved in employment, education or training (27%), compared to 58% of non-Roma youth.
  • Registered Roma unemployment has had a trend of moderate growth over the years, rising from around 22 000 in 2013 to around 28 300 at the end of 2021.
  • 18% of Roma men and women do not have a health card.
  • Coverage by immunization of children in Roma settlements (aged 24-35 months) is only 63%.
  • A large number of Roma households in substandard Roma settlements do not have access to electricity.
  • 32% of substandard Roma settlements are not connected to the electricity grid.
  • 38% of substandard Roma settlements are not connected to the water supply network.

Activities Carried Out

– Realized local actions “Together is better” for advocating the child’s right to quality and fair education through the promotion of the values of social and educational inclusion.

– Implemented the national campaign for enrolment of children from vulnerable groups in the preparatory preschool program in Serbia.

– Implemented campaign “High five under five” for adequate implementation of the rulebook on priority enrolment of children from vulnerable groups in the preschool education system.

– Organized study visits to Serbia in cooperation with REYN network’s members from Croatia, Ukraine and Bulgaria.

– Conducted research “Mapping the situation of children from the families of internal migrants and returnees from abroad”.

– Organized Peer Learning Activity (PLA) with REYN Bulgaria.

– Several seminars were organized for members of the network for raising professional capacities in the field of early development and education of children.

– Provided support to Roma high school students and Roma students for the application of affirmative action measures in the education system of the Republic of Serbia aimed at Roma students.

– Active participation in expert groups and working bodies at the local, national and international level in the preparation of strategic documents in the field of social inclusion of Roma.

– Organized several events (round tables, conferences, public forums) with topics to improve the education of Roma children in Serbia.

– Provided and distributed material and humanitarian aid for Roma families with young children.

Ongoing Activities

  • Contribution to the preparation and harmonization of measures and activities from the national strategy for social inclusion of Roma within the Local Action Plans in the field of education.
  • Advocacy activities for full implementation of active measures for enrolment of Roma children in system of preschool education.
  • Monitoring the implementation of affirmative support measures aimed at Roma children and youth in the education system.
  • Creating a body of REYN ambassadors among Roma and non-Roma ECD professionals.
  • Expanding the network and partnerships with individuals and institutions.
  • Organization of national advocacy events.
  • Organization REYN National Annual meetings.
  • Advocacy activities to change the rulebook on the work of pedagogical assistants and the regulation of the labour and legal status of pedagogical assistants in the education system in Serbia.

Main Outcomes

– Improved implementation of the rulebook on priority enrolment of children from vulnerable groups in all-day preschool educational programs.

– Increased coverage of Roma children aged 3 to 5 with full-time or shorter educational programs in preschool institutions.

– Increased number of Roma students who use affirmative action measures in education (enrolment in high school and colleges; use of local and national scholarships; use of accommodation in student dormitories).

#DreamToGrow

The Dream to Grow campaign shares 12 multipurpose advocacy stories, highlighting  the successes of Roma ECD professionals who are supporting Roma children and families in their countries – celebrating the example they are setting for future generations.

Read Maria’s story in English and Serbian