The project concentrates - initially – on the Cantons of Sarajevo and Zenica-Doboj. In both cantons, Caritas can fall back on long-term, good cooperation with the public authorities, including the Ministry of Education. Moreover, the competent authorities have expressed their interest in cooperation and declared their political will to see changes in the area of nursery schools.
The project pursues a three-pronged approach:
Firstly, through increased educational work, the importance of nursery school attendance for child development is to be more strongly anchored in the public consciousness and nursery school attendance should become a matter of course. All children should have the possibility of access to a nursery school, but especially children from particularly disadvantaged families. In communities and districts without nursery schools, such schools will either be set up in cooperation with the authorities, or access to education is made possible by means of a mobile nursery school.
Secondly, the authorities are to be given support in creating an environment adapted to children’s needs in the nursery schools, and in meeting their legal obligation. This can be achieved through structural measures and by providing facilities, or also by funding additional nursery school teachers, social workers and specialists (for special needs, for example in speech therapy or movement therapy). With regard to the marginalisation of the Roma, the Roma mediators introduced in some schools and nursery schools are of great importance: In the past, cooperation with them and with social workers has proved to be extremely effective in Caritas projects to integrate particularly disadvantaged children into primary and secondary school. The current project aims to benefit from this experience.
Thirdly, the training of the nursery school teachers is to be improved. The directors of studies of the universities of Sarajevo and Zenica have expressed great interest in developing and introducing new modules, with the help of Caritas Switzerland. These include, in particular, topics such as social inclusion, children’s rights and contemporary teaching methodology.
In view of the difficult financial situation of the education authorities both at the cantonal and municipal level, the project will contribute to the funding of posts and equipment; however, this will be exclusively on condition of government co-funding, so that the local integration and sustainability of the project activities are ensured. The Ministries of Education of both cantons have expressly confirmed their financial support and signed corresponding declarations of intent.