With an eye on the EU, Serbia reforming its schools

14/04/2014

The European Commission is urging Serbia to harmonise its labour market and education system to ensure that citizens will be able to find jobs.

By Bojana Milovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 14/04/14

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Serbia’s education system will be reformed to meet EU standards. [AFP]

As Serbia undertakes the education system reforms necessary to join the EU, the European Commission is urging special attention on students' practical knowledge and the production of education profiles fitting the demand of the labour market.

Education officials recently announced changes to the content of education programmes, as well as to the manner of teaching and passing on knowledge. The new measures are designed to stop the drain of highly qualified personnel from Serbia to other countries.

"We are, unfortunately, a country that educates personnel in order to export them," Minister of Education Tomislav Jovanovic told SETimes. "The education system in the country is not as bad as we make it out to be."

The minister agreed, however, that changes need to be made and the system needs to be adapted to EU requirements and standards.

"Teachers at all levels of education should make classes more accessible and interesting to school and university students," Jovanovic said.

Serbia cannot enter the EU uneducated, he said, adding that the objective should be reaching the top European education standards.

Among the problems in Serbian education, the minister listed the lack of an adequate information system and databases, and the need to categorise faculties based on what employment probability they offer students.

University of Belgrade President Vladimir Bumbasirevic said co-operation and more efficient communication between faculties and employers is necessary.

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"That is the point of successful careers for young experts and greater employment possibilities," Bumbasirevic said.

Maja Mihajlovic, a Serbian language teacher from Novi Sad, said the progress of Serbia's education system requires more investment and better working conditions.

"The goodwill and energy of teachers is important, but quality working conditions are also necessary, as well as higher salaries for teachers. A teacher must be materially secure in order to be able to fully commit to their job, and that is not possible with a salary of 350 euros a month," Mihajlovic said.

What types of reforms would you like to see in the education sector in order to align it with the needs of the labour market? Share your thoughts below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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