High School in Obrenovac, hit hardest of all education institutions during the disastrous floods in May 2014, has been reconstructed and opened today. The reconstruction and furnishing have been financed by the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway with EUR625,000. In the presence of numerous guests, students and teachers celebrated the school holiday St. Sava.

Kingdom of Norway has allocated EUR462,000 for the reconstruction of the interior, furniture and equipment. The reconstruction works included plastering, flooring and tiling, replacement of joinery and purchase of furniture. Also, electrical installation and heating substation have been replaced and radiators fixed.

With EUR163,000, the EU funded the necessary studies and main design for the reconstruction of the facility, followed by the facade, roof and purchase of furniture and equipment.

High School Director Protic: It Is Much Better than Before the Floods

Photo: UNOPS

Photo: UNOPS

Teachers and students remember very well the flood that ruined their High School, originally built in 1928. ”The entire ground floor was flooded, with water reaching 1.60m, and in the school yard, as high as the backboards – 2.80m of water,” recalls Director Ivica Protic. “All of our equipment was under the water, some 7,000 books have been destroyed. The floors and furniture on the ground floor were destroyed as well, leaving behind a multi-million damage.“

Sociology teacher Ivan Jovanovic remembers when the janitor caught a fish in the gym after the floods. He says that prior to the floods, the school had been equipped modestly, but its students always managed to achieve great results on state-level competitions. You can see the happiness and optimism on his face: “We now have several studies for the school’s IT, social sciences and linguistic clubs, and you can see we have both black and smart boards, and almost every classroom has its own projector. We also have video surveillance.”

Photo: FoNet – director Ivica Protic

Photo: FoNet – director Ivica Protic

Immediately after the floods, students completed the school year at Shipping School in Belgrade and then, until today, only the ground floor has been fit to host the classes. Preparing for school celebration and welcoming the guests from Belgrade, teachers and students are showing their new class and study rooms. Branislav Muskatirovic, first grade student says “the High School has risen from the ashes. We now have new desks, floors, classrooms, the school is now at a European level.” His peer Djordje Paunovic said: “We couldn’t recognise the school. I love the gym the most. Backboards are much better now and the floor is excellent.“

Director Ivica Protic underscores that the equipment is now far better than before. 420 students and 48 staff now enjoy the best conditions to work and study. “The EU donated computers, whereas Norway donated equipment for physics, chemistry, biology, geography and history cabinets. Many institutions, citizens’ associations and individuals have donated books, so our book fund is now much bigger and better than before the floods. We are really happy and can only say – thank you.“

Priest Vucaj: People of Norway and the EU Have Recognised Our Trouble

They couldn’t hide their happiness during the celebration, recital and hymn to St. Sava performed for their guests from Belgrade. Apart from Head of EU Delegation to Serbia Michael Davenport, they also welcomed and presented Certificates of Appreciation to Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway Arne Sanes Bjornstad, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development Srdjan Verbic, Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali, Director of Government Office for Reconstruction and Flood Relief Marko Blagojevic, President of Obrenovac Municipality Miroslav Cuckovic and numerous friends who have offered their support.

Among them was also priest Aleksandar Vucaj, former student of the High School. He congratulated the school and then thanked “the people of Norway and friends from the EU who have recognised our trouble. Without their help, Obrenovac would not be reconstructed.“

Ambassador Davenport: Support for Obrenovac Continues

European Union is the biggest donor for flood relief in Serbia, and this becomes even more obvious in Obrenovac. “European Union has reconstructed six schools in Obrenovac, the construction of the school in Poljane is coming to an end, and our support continues for flood-hit households, small enterprises and farmers. Most importantly, the EU will fund the projects for flood prevention in Obrenovac to make sure the Municipality is protected from similar disasters in the future,” said EU Ambassador to Serbia Michael Davenport.

Following the opening of the reconstructed High School building, Ambassador joined President of Municipality Miroslav Cuckovic with whom he toured the construction site where 32 apartments are being built for families who have lost their homes in floods.

Photo: FoNet – djaci Djordje Paunovic i Branislav Muskatirovic

Photo: FoNet – djaci Djordje Paunovic i Branislav Muskatirovic

“European Union has invested nearly EUR10 million in the reconstruction of Obrenovac,” reminded Davenport during his visit to construction site on Djacki bataljon street. This part of the town will be the new home to 32 families. The EU has allocated EUR780 million for said apartments.

“This is another part of our fruitful cooperation with the Municipality of Obrenovac,” Davenport said speaking about the construction of apartments, due to be completed by May 2016.