In mid-September, 2019, a working meeting was held of the principals, school support staff and primary school teachers involved in the project Inclusion of Out-of-School Children in the Educational System, supported by the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation. During the meeting, the key achievements of the project were discussed, as well as the challenges that schools face in the process of inclusion of out-of-school children in the educational system.
School representatives also shared their positive experiences and the strategies they use to include and retain these children in the classroom. The participants particularly emphasized the special efforts made at the beginning of the school year to maximize the outreach to students who are not included in the enrolment lists or children who are late to enroll.
With the support of the project, results were achieved at an institutional level, which will provide a long-term solution for the problem of out-of-school children.
As a result of the project interventions at an institutional level, the new Law on Primary Education introduces provisions for exemption from payment in the procedure for recognition and equivalence of certificates and diplomas obtained abroad for students from families receiving guaranteed minimum welfare. These applicants are exempt from all administrative costs in the Ministry of Education and Science, with the exception of notary and court translation costs. Thus, for applicants – beneficiaries of the minimum welfare born in the Republic of North Macedonia, the cost reduction is 82%, while for applicants who are not born in the Republic of North Macedonia, the reduction is 86%. For all other applicants who are not beneficiaries of the guaranteed minimum welfare, there is a 24% cost reduction.
In addition, with the support of the project, for children who are not included in the educational system and are above the age limit, legal bases have been laid for the development of tailored curricula to be adopted in 2020. Furthermore, in order to ensure fuller outreach by identifying school-age children, a draft protocol on the exchange of data between all relevant institutions at the central and local level is being developed.
In addition to the achievements at an institutional level, over the past period, the Project has also successfully collaborated directly with the schools. The project involves 18 schools from 12 municipalities. The Project provides financial support to more than 130 children attending school on a regular basis, although they were not previously involved in the educational process.
Extracurricular activities for inclusion were also implemented with the support of the Project, which included scholarship holders and their classmates who socialized and studied together through various activities. The teachers who work directly with these students, as well as some of the support staff, have already participated in skills training for inclusion of these children, and in the coming period they will also attend a second cycle of trainings on developing and applying models and approaches for creating an inclusive atmosphere in the classroom.
This activity is part of the Project for inclusion of out-of-school children in the education system, financed by the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science.