5.7 “Learning to participate” through formal, non-formal and informal learning
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A specific national strategy for social and civic competences does not exist in Serbia.
However, Serbia introduced important measures in the years before the adoption of the Paris Declaration (‘Declaration on promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education’).
The framework for social and civic competences in Serbia is the Law on Fundamentals of Education System (Zakon o osnovama obrazovanja i vaspitanja). The Law stipulates that education system must ensure, among other, lifelong learning that aims to continuously develop personal, social, civic and working competences. It also underlines that those are some of the key competences of the lifelong learning. The Law defines social and civic competences as the ability to effectively and constructively participate in social and working life and to increase active and democratic participation. Furthermore, the Law establishes “responsible participation in a democratic society“ as one of the eleven general interdisciplinary competencies, to be developed through all school subjects, throughout primary and secondary education.
Specific target groups are not defined by this law.
Serbia offers separate subjects in citizenship education throughout the whole general education pathway – both in elementary schools and high schools. The subject of citizenship education is in the form of core curriculum options as an alternative to religious education. Approximately, 50% of pupils in elementary and high school opt for citizenship education.
In Serbia curriculum guidelines for civic education are delivered in terms of general aims, but not in terms of learning outcomes.
Some of the main learning objectives of civic education are:
- interacting effectively and constructively with others, especially being flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances and having ‘emotional awareness',
- thinking critically and being creative,
- acting in a socially responsible manner and having 'a sense of belonging'.
Taught time is 45 minutes per week.
Non-formal and informal learning are legally regulated by the Law on the National Qualifications Framework of the Republic of Serbia (NQF). In addition, the Law on Youth states that activities for informing young people on issues of importance, as well as on fostering non-formal youth education within the youth sector and development of quality of non-formal youth education should be funded from the state budget.
There are no official national programmes to support extra-curricular activities. However, schools are free to implement projects with different partners that encourage learning and the application of human rights activism in and out of school.
Participative structures within formal education settings (e.g. pupils' participation in school councils)
The Law on Fundamentals of Education System (Zakon o osnovama obrazovanja i vaspitanja) stipulates the right of students to establish Student’s Parliament in last 2 grades of elementary school and in high-school. The Law does not bind schools to initiate establishment of Students’ Parliament, but rather serve as the guidelines and encouragement for students to participate in decision-making in their educational institution.
Large-scale programmes aimed at training school staff to enhance their skills to participate in decision-making structures are mainly being organized by the Institute for the Improvement of Education (Zavod za unapređivanje obrazovanja i vaspitanja). The Institute annually conducts seminars throughout Serbia. In the period 2016-2018, some of the seminars related to enhancing teachers’ skills to support pupils in participation in social life are following:
- Providing Support to the Development of Critical Thinking (Podrška razvoju kritičkog mišljenja). The aim of this training was creating an integrated approach to learning that encourages the development of critical thinking.
- Developing Student Activism and Volunteerism (Razvijanje aktivizma i volonterizma kod učenika). The seminar’s goal was to increase the level of teacher’s competences to create a positive social climate in the school and support student activism and volunteerism in various ways.
- Where Has Gone the Responsibility? Responsibility as the Main Factor in Successful Student Participation (Gde je nestala odgovornost? – Odgovornost kao glavni factor uspešne participacije učenika) The training aimed at improving the teacher's work in fostering the development of student responsibility as a pre-condition for successful student participation in school.
Measures to encourage student participation in the local community and wider society
Provisions forming part of national curricula or education regulations/guidelines encouraging pupils at upper secondary level to take part in activities serving the community outside school do not exist in Serbia.
However, Serbia has mechanisms in place enabling the active participation of young people in society, mainly through the work of Local Youth Councils, youth organisations and Youth Offices. All these actors, through the implementation of their regular activities, encourage young people/pupils to participate in activities outside of formal education. The participation in these activities enable pupils to improve their skills and competences, as well as to participate in citizenship-related activities/projects that improve their community. Main organisations active in the field of youth participation (see 5.3 Youth Representation Bodies/Other bodies) are the National Council of Serbia (KOMS), National Association of Youth Offices, National Association of Youth Work Practitioners (NAPOR). Furthermore, important role is given to 137 Local Youth Offices, approximately 80 Local Youth Councils, as well as Youth Council that enables young people to participate in the local community and wider society through different projects/programmes implemented on local or national level. Partnerships between formal education providers, youth organisations and youth work providers
The legal framework for partnerships between formal education providers, youth organisations and youth work providers does not exist in Serbia.
Top-level system of quality assurance applied to non-formal learning activities does not exist in Serbia.
All subject teachers may teach citizenship education, provided they have completed designated professional training in this area. More precisely, top-level education authorities organise continuing professional development (CPD) activities to develop the competences of all teachers in the area of citizenship education. In terms of that, any fully qualified teacher can teach citizenship education provided that they have completed one or more designated CPD courses. These CPD courses are specifically aligned with the citizenship education topics in the curriculum and are supported by the top-level education authorities.
The citizenship education online platform was established by the Institute for Improvement of Education in cooperation with UNICEF. The platform is primarily intended for teachers of citizenship education in high schools but it is recommended to citizenship education teachers at all levels of education. It is designed to support teachers in the process of planning, teaching and learning and contains video and written resources (e.g., laws, regulations, strategies, research, manuals, guides, professional texts…) relevant to the curriculum and methodology of teaching citizenship education.
Formal events or networks aiming to support citizenship education do not exist, however, separate events organized by different institutions, civil society associations take place on different occasions.