And it helped smooth the way for Petar Plećić, a ten year old with Asperger's Syndrome. His teacher Dragana Tošev, was among 12,000 in Serbia trained through DILS to work with vulnerable children.
"The most important training for me was how to develop an individual learning plan, and how to evaluate it. This enables me to have an individual approach to pupils and then to see what works, so I can continue with it, and to see what doesn't work so that I can correct it. It also helped me to identify that communication and independence are Petar's weak points, and to design specific steps to address these issues," explains Tošev.
Petar's mother Jasmina Plećić says "Petar and kids like him need the opportunity to study with girls and boys without learning difficulties if they are to develop their full potential. His teacher has found a way to improve his learning curve immensely. He progressed so much that I almost don't recognize my child anymore." Plećić adds, "Other children in his class also benefit from having him. They feel better and they are kinder to each other."
DILS benefited 484 schools in 153 Serbian municipalities and enabled the inclusion of children with learning difficulties, and children from marginalized groups, such as Roma, who might otherwise stay outside the education system entirely.
Đulijeta Šulić was hired as a Roma mediator and is proud of what has been achieved in the Krivak settlement. Krivak is home to 15,000 Roma people; few children were enrolled in pre-school or elementary school. Most didn't speak Serbian or have documents needed for education, social protection or health care before the project started.
"At least 90 percent of children aged 3 to 5 years from the settlement are signed up for pre-school thanks to the interventions of the DILS project. We provided transportation for them from Krivak to kindergardens. We worked with parents to ensure that their kids regularly attend elementary schools. In cooperation with the local community, we helped them acquire all necessary documents allowing them to use education, social protection and health services. Our help was instrumental in improving their knowledge of Serbian, which makes their learning better and easier," says Šulić.
DILS supported the inclusion of Roma children in 56 Serbian municipalities, involving 55 pre-schools, 140 schools and 55 non-governmental organizations.ILS supported the inclusion of Roma children in 56 Serbian municipalities, involving 55 pre-schools, 140 schools and 55 non-governmental organizations.
"DILS blazed the trail for good inclusive education in Serbia for all vulnerable groups of children," says Zdenka Milivojević, of the project implementation unit. She added that it laid the groundwork for inclusive education to be the norm in the future.