The Roma Balkan Programme 2007-2009
Civic Initiatives' Interethnic Programme in partnership with the School Administration Kragujevac organised on December 7th, 2007 in Kragujevac a round table on topic ''Exchange of good practice experiences in creation and realisation of local action plans for Roma education". Cooperation between the Kragujevac School Administration and Civic Initiatives was launched in scope of the programme "Roma Balkan Programme 2007-2009" realised with support of international organisation Oxfam Novib from the Netherlands.
This meeting gathered togehter heads and educational counsellors of school administrations and/ or other representatives of 12 primary schools from 6 municipalitites in the territories of School Administrations of Sombor, Valjevo and Kragujevac, primary school "Despot Stefan Lazarević" from the Zvezdara municipality- Belgrade, as well as pre-school representatives from the territories of the aforementioned School Administrations. Among the participants were the representatives of Roma non-governmental organisations from Subotica, Valjevo, Kragujevac and Belgrade, some of which were partner organisations to Civic Initiatives during the Roma Balkan Programme Phase I, whereas some are being our partners on the ongoing programme 2007-2009. The Town of Kragujevac was in this gathering represented by the local coordinator for Roma issues.
The objective of this round table was the exchange of experiences and good practice models that are being realised in educational institutions within the project aimed at the Roma children integration into regular education process. At the same time, the gathering was used for presentation of activities of the NGOs acting in this field as partners to educational institutions in realisation of the local action plans. Models of work and activities regarding promotion of Roma education were pesented in 4 segments- presentations of School Administrations of Sombor, Valjevo, Kragujevac and Primary School " ''Despot Stefan Lazarević'' from the Zvezdara municipality. Following each of the presentations, as well as during the closing part of this gathering, the participants had the opportunity to express their impressions, observations, ask questions, but also make suggestions that will lead to further upgrading of existing models and good practice dissemination.
The strongest impression all of the participants pointed out was the fact that they had for the first time had the chance to exchange experiences regarding their efforts on improvement of the Roma education and present the models thereof they developed in their local environments at one gathering. It is important to emphasise that all of the actors present (representativs of school administrations, Roma non-governmental organisations and representatives of educational institutions) displayed high level of cooperation continually being developed and adjusted to the concrete needs of the local community they are active in. Organisation of the round table like this is a contribution to further strengthening of such a cooperation.
Likewise, besides the high level interest for the Roma education matters, all of the participants also showed their openness for cooperation. The idea was born to organise such an exchange more often, since it gives incentives for engagement, provides an opportunity for evaluation of one's own practice, thus creating conditions for establishment of direct cooperation and networking. Also were expressed the ideas related to potential forms of future concrete cooperation aimed at empowering of the actors involved in educational process as well as strengthening of their partnership with the objective to enhance the Roma children position within the educational system.
Regional Conference - "Position of Minorities: Education as the Foundation of Stable Relations in the Region"
In the scope of the regional component of the project "Minority Rights in Practice in Southeast Europe 2004-2006" the Interethnic Programme of Civic Initiatives organized on June 8 and 9, 2006 the regional conference "Position of Minorities: Education as the Foundation of Stable relations in the Region".
The aim of the Conference was to exchange information on current solutions of educational systems in the countries participating in the programme (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia) regarding education in languages of national minorities and the achieved level and content of the reform of educational systems in the above mentioned countries oriented towards education for democratic citizenry. At the Conference were presented the existing models and solutions in the specified fields, and the importance of the role of the civil society in the processes of educational system reform was also illuminated.
More than eighty participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia took part in the gathering. Besides representatives of partner and other nongovernmental organizations from the region, among the participants were also representatives of competent ministries, schools and other educational institutions from the participant countries, as well as independent experts in the fields addressed by the Conference. Regarding participants from Serbia, besides the Republic Ministry of Sports and Education as well as experts in the field, part also took representatives of the Vojvodina Province Secretariat for Education, Province Secretariat for Administration, Regulations and National Minorities, individual schools, NGOs, National Councils of National Minorities and media. The gathering was opened by the Minister of Education and Sports of the Republic of Serbia, Mr. Slobodan Vuksanovic.
In a view of importance of the topic of the gathering for the entire region, Civic Initiatives prepared a publication" Guide to Minorities and Education", which illuminate this topic from the regional aspect, on the basis of accents and messages of presentations and discussions that were heard at the gathering, as well as comparative analysis.
Round Table Day After: Status of Kosovo and Position of National Minorities in Serbia
On May 12, 2006 the interethnic programme of Civic Initiatives organized in Belgrade the Round Table Day After: Status of Kosovo and Position of National Minorities in Serbia. The Round Table was organized in the scope of the programme Minority Rights in Practice in Southeast Europe 2004-2006, supported by the King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, USA, and Fund for an Open Society, Serbia.
The topic of the Round Table was selected in accordance with the current process of Kosovo status defining and potential reflections of the process on the position of the national minorities in the Republic of Serbia. The intention was to open through this Round Table the more than necessary dialogue on the topic of importance for the whole region. In order to provide an eventful and comprehensive dialogue and confrontation of different opinions, the keynote speakers at the gathering were eminent representatives of the social, political and public life in general, some of them also direct actors in the process discussed. Participants in the gathering were representatives of State institutions, relevant nongovernmental organizations, embassies, international organizations; at the gathering was also present an unusually large number of representatives of national printed and electronic media, as well as correspondents of regional and local printed media. Commitment of this gathering was extraordinary, so that in the morning sessions part took some one hundred persons. The gathering was marked by surprising frankness in setting forth attitudes, deprived of common places and diplomatic phraseology, unusual for such a "hot" political topic.
Commitment as well as development and contents of discussions at the Round Table proved what in the first place motivated us to organize a gathering on such a topic. The fact is that in Serbia has not been opened a dialogue on such an important topic, that the public has very poor and inadequate information on the conditions and development of negotiations, as well as on the actual conditions in Kosovo and possible solutions and their consequences.
Round Table Multiethnic Municipalities Management
On April 18, 2006 the Interethnic Programme of Civic Initiatives organized in Subotica the Round Table on the topic "Multiethnic Municipalities Management". The Round Table was organized in the scope of the programme Minority Rights in Practice in Southeast Europe 2004-2006, supported by the King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, USA, and Fund for an Open Society, Serbia. The Round Table took place in the hall of the Town Hall of Subotica, whereby was continued the good cooperation between Civic Initiatives and the Municipality of Subotica. The topic of the Round Table was selected in compliance with the current processes of institutional arrangement of the position of national minorities at the local level, particularly taking into account the recent establishment of the institution of Municipal Councils for Interethnic Relations. In the period prior to the Round Table, in Serbia were formed Municipal Councils in 18 municipalities, in compliance with the Law on Local Self-Government, while it is expected that within the upcoming period such Councils will be formed in all other municipalities with multiethnic population. The gathering was attended by a large number of participants, among who were representatives of different structures within minority communities (members of NGOs, National Councils and journalists) from Vojvodina and Sandžak, as well as representatives of relevant authorities of the Municipality of Subotica.
The participants exchanged their experiences and compared the municipality management practice in two very different regions in Serbia, Vojvodina and Sandžak. Through presentations and discussions was given a wide insight into different models of multiethnic municipalities management, with all regional specificities, as well as advantages and obstacles they are accompanied by.
Round Table Method of Election of National Councils of National Minorities
On May 20, 2005 the interethnic programme of Civic Initiatives organized in Belgrade the Round Table on the topic "The Method of Election of National Councils of National Minorities". The Round Table was organized in the scope of the programme Minority Rights in Practice in Southeast Europe 2004-2006, supported by the King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, USA, and Fund for an Open Society, Serbia. At the Round Table part took representatives of all National Councils of National Minorities, relevant State institutions, nongovernmental organizations and media.
The Round Table topic was selected as one of the key topics in the scope of the issue of institutionalization of National Councils. For the majority of National Councils the four-year mandate ends in 2006 and 2007, which should be the election years for them as well. The issue of National Councils election is regulated by the Rulebook prescribed on July 5, 2002 by the Federal Minister for Human and Minority Rights. This Rulebook stipulates indirect, electoral method of election of National Councils, which in practice has provoked not only numerous negative reactions by the members of national minorities but also quite concrete problems on the occasion of elections. The additional issue is the issue of competence of National Councils, which is regulated by one Article only in the Law on Protection of Rights and Freedoms of National Minorities. Given that National Councils are an aspect of minority self-governments and representative bodies of respective minorities, and given that despite the above specified problems in the previous period, since their formation, they nevertheless managed to secure their position and impose themselves as relevant factors in the process of minority rights exercising, the issue of comprehensive legal regulation of their position (election, competence, responsibility etc.) imposed itself as the priority issue. Civic Initiatives see this problem as a part of the story of necessity to build a comprehensive institutional framework that will secure application of the rights of national minorities.
As the main message of the Round Table we may point out the statement that the existing legal framework is very unfavourable for national minority communities. Namely, in the course of discussion the participants agreed that there is need for as fast as possible regulation of this matter through a law. They also evaluated that the present legal framework is absolutely insufficient and that it is only a framework that requires further concretization. To this end the Secretary of the Republic Council for National Minorities, Mr. Petar Lađević, announced the forming of a working group that will initiate preparation of the draft law.