About 60 practitioners (preschool teachers, associates and principals) attended the first training for mentors from pre-school institutions involved in the SUPER project (Support to Preschool Education System Reform in Serbia) funded by the European Union.

The aim of the training “Mentoring in the development of an inspiring environment for integrated learning of children” is to strengthen the capacity of mentors to work with preschool teachers to develop a quality inclusive programme based on modern pedagogical concepts in line with the concept of the new preschool curriculum framework “Years of Ascent”, as well as to strengthen the capacity of mentors to act as drives of change in preschool institutions. The training was led by Prof Dr Dragana Breneselović Pavlović, a key expert in pre-school education and Prof Dr Živka Krnjaja, a project expert.

During these three-day trainings, future mentors had the opportunity to discuss how a particular space shapes children’s learning, what it is and why it is important to have an inspiring space and how to use furniture, equipment and resources expediently in the complementary project “Furnishing Preschools” funded by the European Union, and develop an inspiring learning environment, in an interactive manner with the lecturers. Participants were also presented with ways to develop a program focused on integrated learning of children in kindergarten.

“Kids learn what they live. They need an inspiring space to learn. How do we build it? You have the equipment, but how do you make the space for children better, more inspiring”, asked Prof Dr Dragana Breneselović Pavlović while addressing the mentors.

First training was held in Ruma, 5-7 September 2019, for mentors from PI Alibunar, Bela Crkva, Opovo, Plandište, Bač, Žabalj, Srbobran, Titel, Čoka, Mali Iđoš, Žitište, Sečanj, Irig, Bajina Bašta, Priboj, Ljig, Osečina, Loznica, Koceljeva, Ljubovija, Mali Zvornik, Lučani and Knić.

The training in Nis held on 12-14 September 2019 brought together mentors from PI Trstenik, Rekovac, Ćićevac, Golubac, Žabari, Žagubica, Velika Plana, Kučevo, Malo Crniće, Petrovac na Mlavi, Boljevac, Knjaževac, Crna Trava, Gadžin Han, Ražanj, Svrljig, Babušnica, Bela Palanka, Dimitrovgrad, Medveđa, Brus, Blace, Kuršumlija, Bosilegrad, Trgovište, Batočina and Raška.

The training sessions were assessed as very useful and the knowledge acquired will help the mentors to understand the scope of the programme and the importance and function of learning space and environment in the context of creating a programme, to put the equipment and materials obtained to the use of developing an inspiring space for integrated learning as well as to make them able to carry out training with educators in their institutions.

This training is accredited and is put on the List of Programmes of Public Interest approved by the Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development.

New trainings will be held over the coming months for representatives of local self-government units, and fresh two-day training sessions for mentors are scheduled for early December 2019.

In October 2018, the new preschool curriculum framework “Years of Ascent”, was adopted, aimed at the overall development and well-being of the child through an integrated approach to learning, connecting play with other activities, as well as building meaningful relationships with peers and adults in an inspirational space. The Rulebook on the Basics of Preschool Education Programmes allows the new programme to be introduced in preschool institutions starting from September 2019.

The project activities will take place in 50 towns/local self-governments and their respective preschool institutions with the aim to strengthen professional competences of preschool institution staff for delivering quality and inclusive preschool education, enhance professional capacities of local governments to plan and manage preschool education and advance legislative framework in the field of preschool education.

The EU has therefore secured a grant for the provision of teaching aids, IT equipment and furniture to the tune of approximately EUR1 million, which will additionally contribute to high quality and inclusive preschool education.

The project is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development. The Contracting Authority is the Ministry of Finance, i.e. Department for Contracting and Financing EU funded Programmes (CFCU).

The project activities kicked off in March 2019 and will run for two years. The EU is funding the project with approximately EUR0.9 million. The project is being implemented by Particip GmbH in consortium with IB (Internationaler Bund), VBJK and CIP – Centre for Interactive Pedagogy.

SUPER is one of the EU projects by which the EU, as the largest donor in Serbia, supports the overall education sector reform.

Since 2003, the EU has donated more than 100 million EUR for the education sector reform. This includes the improvement of preschool education, support for the reform of vocational and adult education, renovation and refurbishing of schools and faculties, Roma inclusion etc.