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HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION IS A TURNING POINT We offer a long-term education system fit for the 21st century


uch has changed in the education system of Serbia in recent years. The Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development of Serbia, Mladen Šarčević, talks about what has been done and what remains to be done. At the beginning of this interview, he says that, when he was appointed the minister, the Ministry was in a lot of chaos, adding that he is satisfied with the work done so far. “Serbia went through a period of inactivity while things were happening in other European countries and work was being done on science and technological development. Education thus went astray for some time, partly due to low salaries and dissatisfaction of people working in the education system. This has caused many problems that cannot be solved immediately. We're talking about 25 to 30 years of bad models. There is also a problem of what if the Strategy covering the period until 2020 was good, but was not implemented because there was no action plan in place,” explains minister Šarčević.


Could you tell us what you were able to do with this inherited situation? — In these three years, my cabinet and I have managed to direct the entire story where it has to go. We have received recognition from the European Commission, the OECD, as well as many


other people from abroad, as well as from the world of education. They can now compare what Serbia has done in the last three years, and has done a lot. The first thing I would mention is the implementation of new technologies in teaching and learning, as well as many things in legislation. So far, we have enacted 36 laws and about 150 by-laws. We are now preparing an Education Strategy for 2030 with an Action Plan that will build on the sound foundations of reform. However, I would point out that the reform is ongoing. I would also like to mention that the mandatory high school graduation will be a turning point, because external grading is introduced. What do you think is the key to changing the whole education system? — We can't start building a house from the fifth floor. So, we first need to start with reforming the preschool system which means that we build enough capacity, that we have enough staff, but also that we have enough money. As for the staffing issue, we have already managed to do that and now we have enough staff. We still need to resolve problems in the other two segments. I think that our poor performance at higher levels of education stems from the inadequate coverage of children aged three to six when the modern world is moving along with other educational

M L A D E N ŠA RČ E V I Ć Serbian Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development

STRATEGY So far, we have enacted 36 laws and about 150 by-laws. We are now preparing an Education Strategy for 2030 with an Action Plan that will build on the sound foundations of reform.

models. There are regions where the coverage of children is unsatisfactory so that it poses a problem. In our country, that is usually childcare which means that this category is absolutely crucial. We have already started working on this issue, we have created a great plan and programme for preschoolers called "Years of the Elevation". We have been working with the UNICEF on this project and they ranked it among the top three. Currently, the training is being done under the project’s auspices. This is something new and different to what has been done in Serbia so far. You talk about pre-school, but what about primary and high school education? — Primary and high school education has undergone major changes, as it has shifted from classical content transfer through content adoption and content reproduction to learning through outcomes. Teaching and learning is therefore done today with the aim of children connecting different models and concepts. By doing so, they acquire competences for lifelong learning. Also, we found that school leaders needed training because no-one has worked with them. We have introduced training and licensing and this is a really serious endeavour. Obtaining a license to be a school principal is not that easy at all which resulted in departization and


depolitization of that function. We are also working with lower-level education facility managers, as their roles need to be presented differently. I am mainly referring to school secretaries and expert associates. There are now new paradigms in place where we will have different models of schools that will be able to express their idiosyncrasies. All institutions will thus have a degree of autonomy where we will only be interested in the outcomes, not the formal programmes. As I have said earlier, we are now introducing high school graduation and nationwide tests. We have already achieved a lot in reforms, having covered the first and the fifth grade

the whole system. The state has allocated 70 million euro for this purpose. Of this amount, 35 million euro will be spent on the equipment and training, and the remaining 35 million euro will be transferred to the Ministry of Telecommunications which is in charge of build a robust network that can follow everything we do.

of elementary schooling and the first grade in gymnasiums. This year, we are going to cover the second and the sixth grade of elementary schools and the second grade in gymnasiums. We have already provided an impetus, with the reform of high school education being implemented in its entirety. You cannot develop a quality high school education if you reduce it only to obtaining knowledge. Everything I have mentioned is interconnected. You cannot expect good grades if your teaching is not good. In order to quickly track all this information we are going to implement a unique information system in education. In September, we will start implementing JISP where everyone, from nurseries to universities, will be assigned a JOB (the Unique Education Number). We have digitized the system and I can confidently say that we are champions in that and are not lagging behind developed countries. Throughout this process, we have been providing extensive staff training, purchasing much needed computers and perfecting

with quotas. Dual education in high schools is working well and we will continue to work on it. The plan is to open resource centres for lifelong learning. Everything is turned upside down here – there are dozens of commissions and working groups which members are volunteering and everyone is working with us. We are also working on new student accommodation. A complete reform whereby vocational colleges were transformed into academies has also been implemented and we can see progress in that segment too.

powers in the world. Also, we have scientific connections with Russia, China, the USA, South Korea and many European countries. Plus, we are also working on a strategy for science. There are two useful things we have done here – the first is the Law on Science and Research, which got researchers seriously concerned because they have to do evaluations now, and the second is the Science Fund which is regulated by another law and has already been formed. The first tranche for this purpose amounted to 6 million euro but we have managed to up this amount to 9 million euro, which is how much the second tranche will be.

How important is the implementation of the dual system in high school education? When will dual education be implemented in colleges? — The implementation of dual education will start at colleges soon. We now have a working group that is dealing

What is the current situation with science in Serbia? — Science in Serbia is disproportionately well-developed compared to the rest of society. Only 23 countries are members of CERN, including Serbia, and this is the best validation of my claim. We have been to Japan recently where we succeeded in renewing our connections with our counterparts there after a 40-year-break. Needless to say, Japan is one of the five technological


PLANS In September, we will start implementing JISP where everyone, from nurseries to universities, will be assigned a JOB (the Unique Education Number).

Speaking of science, what are the plans for science and technology parks in Serbia? — Many institutes and technology parks are now operational. The construction of the Science and Technology Park in Belgrade is now in its second phase with the first phase completed. The Science and Technology Park in Novi Sad is open, with the first phase completed in January and the second phase about to be completed in the spring. The Science and Technology Park in Niš is also finished and handed over to the local government for use, while the budget for the Science and Technology Park in Čačak has been allocated. That is not the end. Startup communities are growing fast too. Our focus must be now on higher education and its re-internationalization, and that goes hand in hand with the accreditation of curricula in English. Also, we will have to implement major infrastructure projects in this segment, including the construction of new buildings and adaptation of the existing ones.




DUAL STUDIES AT INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION BU is among the 2-3% of the world's top universities

n the interview for Diplomacy&Commerce, Professor Nenad Zrnić, PhD, Vice-Rector for International Cooperation, University of Belgrade, speaks about the benefits of dual education for the Serbian education system, the importance of cooperation between our universities and universities in Europe and the US, and the extent to which higher education institutions can influence the improvement of the education system in Serbia at all levels. “One of the problems in our education system stems from the fact that the higher education underwent a more extensive reform, implemented in 2006 in accordance with the Bologna Process, in comparison with lower education, where the teaching, curricula and grading method have not been modified since the time of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The measures implemented in recent years to reform the education system in schools by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) are certainly encouraging and are already beginning to deliver results. A lot is also expected from the 2030 education strategy, which will cover all levels of education, from pre-school to university, and which the MEST is working on. Of particular importance are the announced leaving exams, where teachers from higher education institutions (HEIs) would be involved in the creation of their content since such integration between high-school and universi-



ty education is much needed. Also, higher education institutions must have a proactive approach to high school students, be present in schools, present themselves, and participate in student competitions and workshops. At the university level, HEIs should develop and enhance each of the three visions of higher education: teaching, science and the elements of the third education mission in terms of developing an entrepreneurial spirit in students, an innovative approach, technology transfer, cooperation with businesses, and development of start-ups and spin-off companies," he says. What benefits did the implementation of dual education bring to the Serbian education system and what are its effects in practice? — Although many flatly and unjustifiably criticize dual education, it is not a purely Serbian creation. Dual education has long existed in many European countries. It is a form of hands-on learning through work, where students obtain some of the knowledge in the classroom and the practical part through learning from the employer. This type of education has already come to life in our country in high schools, with good results and continuous progress, which is also encouraged by foreign investors who are particularly interested in such programmes. The Law on Dual Studies has also been adopted, thanks to the cooperation between the MEST, a working group set up by the Minis-


P rofe ss o r N E NA D Z R N I Ć , PhD Vice-Rector for International Cooperation, University of Belgrade

INTEREST The continuing interest of foreign employers in our graduates, including the world's most renowned companies, is an indicator of the quality of higher education at the Belgrade University.

try, and researchers on a three-year international project called “Implementation of dual education in higher education in Serbia" which focuses on the capacity building in higher education under the Erasmus+ programme and which I manage on behalf of the University of Belgrade. The law has been drafted very carefully. Now, the National Accreditation Body and the National Council for Higher Education have to do their part. As a result, we will soon have dual studies at higher education institutions. Dual studies are a matter of voluntary decision made by a higher education institution, but it is an important novelty and a good addition to the higher education system. It is important to underline that many companies are dedicated to dual studies because they have estimated that dual education produces the so-called a finished product, or a graduate student who will not need a certain period to adapt to the work environment. To what extent does the system of accreditation of higher education institutions affect the quality of university education, especially at private universities in Serbia? — The Law on Higher Education does not differentiate between public and private universities. Personally, I prefer to differentiate these institutions based on the quality of education they offer to students and other parameters that objectively, or measurably, rank a college. Also, we cannot speak of an inad-


equate accreditation system, given that the current system is in line with the positive practices of the accreditation system in the EU countries. Rather, we could talk about lack of implementation of the regulation, inadequate response and treatment, and concealing omissions. With the establishment of the National Accreditation Body, which is an independent agency, and the formation of a new Accreditation and Quality Review Committee, I hope that only those HEI that deserve accreditation will be accredited. How important is the cooperation between our universities and universities in Europe and the USA?

— There are several forms of cooperation, one of which is under the auspices of the Erasmus+ programme which enables student and teacher mobility. The Belgrade University (BU) has already begun the implementation of a new cycle, and in terms of approved funds, we are the best of all higher education institutions in Serbia. Our strategy is to work primarily with universities that are better ranked than us. This is a guarantee that students studying at foreign universities will gain top quality knowledge and experience that will contribute to their development. We also cooperate under the Erasmus programme on projects of capacity building in higher education, strategic partnerships, knowledge alliances, etc. Also, our university participates in dozens of scientific projects under the Horizon 2020 call, funded by the European Commission. This allows our teachers and researchers to collaborate with top experts from different countries and build on their knowledge. Finally, the BU is also a mem-

ber of several university associations, currently chairing the Danube Rector's Forum and Uniadrion (universities in the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region). We have also been admitted to the CESAER (The Conference of European Schools for Advanced Engineering Education and Research). All of this allows us to keep abreast of contemporary trends in education and science.

in this regard, universities need to cooperate with the state, that is, such systematic access and synergy can produce good results. How prepared are our higher education institutions to make the necessary changes to keep up with Europe and the world in terms of quality of studying? — In order to advance ourselves, we need to connect with those who are better than us. The BU was invited last August to join the CircleU network, which will very soon submit an application for a European Universities project under the auspices of the Erasmus+ programme. This is a move towards uniting excellent European universities, which only as networked can rival powerful universities from the US and China. This would create mega-European universities where at least 50% of students would use mobility programmes - physical and virtual - to bring together chairs and researchers. The University of Belgrade is recognized in this network as the preferred partner of the following universities: the Oslo University, the Aarhus University, the Humboldt University Berlin, the University of Paris, the Catholic University of Louvain and King’s College London. Collaboration and networking with these highly ranked universities from wealthy countries is a good direction in the BU’s development and creates great opportunities for our students and teachers.

How much does the decline in the Belgrade University’s ranking on the socalled Shanghai List realistically reflect the situation in the Serbian education system? — The University of Belgrade has long been operating in accordance with the

globally renowned standards. It is the best-ranked Western Balkan university and one of a handful from the former Yugoslav republics on the Shanghai List. A couple of years ago, it was ranked 284th, and is now among the 400-500 top- ranked universities. This decline has been extremely dramatically portrayed in the public. The BU has not seen a decline in its results. Rather, others make faster progress primarily because of increased investments that we cannot afford. In reality, being among the 2-3% of the world's top universities, or among the top 500 in the world, is no small thing for Serbia. According to data from Universitas 21, an association of 21 high-ranking universities from around the world, Serbia ranked 41st in the world in 2019. If these data are weighted by the GDP of the country and the level of investments in higher education, Serbia occupies an excellent third place. Therefore, higher education, as well as science, needs additional investments and


RANKING In terms of the accomplished results, University of Belgrade’s ranking on the Shanghai List has not declined. Rather, others make faster progress primarily because of increased investments that we cannot afford.

How much can students, students and young professionals in Serbia compare to their peers and colleagues from abroad? — The fact is that the first generation of economic emigration, which emigrated mainly to the countries of Western Europe, consisted mostly of workers and a segment of highly educated people. With the collapse of the SFRY, that has changed and the emigration of persons with higher education has prevailed. This trend has continued and today we have a permanent brain drain. This is cause for concern and should motivate us to create the conditions for young people that would keep them in the country. On the other hand, as the vice-rector of the University of Belgrade, the only Serbian university of national importance and by far the best ranked, I have to admit that, in some way, I am glad to see that foreign employers, including the world's most renowned companies, are showing a continuing interest in our graduates. This is an indication that higher education at the BU and several other universities in Serbia is of excellent quality.




THE DIGITAL AGE HAS CHANGED THE APPROACH AND THE WAY KNOWLEDGE IS TRANSMITTED A step ahead of everyone in every segment of our business


irector and founder of the Filipović Academy, Bratislav Filipović, says there is no "secret formula for education in Serbia", but adds that it is a well-known fact who, what and how they are working and what kind of contributions have they made to improve the basic competencies of education staff. He argues that there is a myriad of valuable and good teachers, professors and educators in Serbia who have only one goal - to elevate education to the position it deserves in the society. There is no “secret formula for edu-


cation in Serbia". It is a well-known fact who, what and how they are working and what kind of contributions have they made to improve the basic competencies of education staff. Computer literacy, also called digitization, is the basic competence that every citizen, both here and globally, should have, especially those employed in education. Unfortunately, the case is that many who are in power do not want or are not able to see these true values, so they planting us all sorts of things, pulling wool over our eyes, blinding us… In fact, they are trying to do that albe-

B RAT I S L AV F I L I P OV I Ć MSc, Founder and Instructor Coordinator at the Filipović Academy

TOOL Research is our main tool. We implement the results obtained in our programmes in the best way possible, which is of great help to teachers and the education system itself.


it unsuccessfully. Serbia has a myriad of valuable and good teachers, professors and educators, who have only one goal - to elevate education to the position it deserves in the society, to teach our children in the best possible way, and to pass on all the knowledge and all the skills necessary for proper development. Quality education will depend on both society and the state, so let's not give up on it but go one step ahead of everyone. Since its inception, the Filipović Academy has been focusing on information / digital literacy. We started working with individuals, only to grow into the most eminent institution in the region which, through various seminars, training sessions, consultations and conferences, educates teachers, professors and other education staff in IT skills. Through its activities, the Filipović Academy tries to permanently eliminate the fear of the new that is most pronounced when it comes to modern technologies. We invest a lot of effort into bringing teachers closer to modern technology, the way it is applied in teaching, and the effects that are positively reflected on students, their attention and their desire to be involved in learning. Over 47,000 teachers have attended 52 accredited seminars and hundreds of training sessions and presentations. Since 2008, we have been developing


the School Information System, which is, judging by all indicators, one of the best in the region. We have been commended by experts, end-users and software developers for our electronic grade book, e-portfolio of teachers and students, e-portfolio of school principals which has been created following the Rulebook for Obtaining School Principal License, e-pedagogical book, programme for psychological and pedagogical service, programme for electronic library management, programme for keeping records in preschool institutions devised with the latest Years of Ascension (Godine Uzleta) format, the school site development platform and the programme for self-evaluation of institutions. In 2015, our E-Portfolio of Teachers and Students won the prestigious international DISKOBOLOS 2015 Award for the first place in the education category, and in 2013, we were given the DISKOBOLOS 2013 Award for the e-Libraries programme. The school information system is intended for all types of educational institutions, from preschool, elementary schools, high schools, music and ballet schools, specialized schools and higher education. Today, the 965 institutions and 10,318 teachers in Serbia use the E-Portfolio of Teachers and Principals. The number of users is increasing daily. It is important to mention, and this is something that no-one can change, is that all of our users are satisfied, because the applications they use are designed for them, i.e. tailored to their educational profiles and levels of their digital competencies.

What is the benefit of non-formal education provided by the Filipović Academy over the traditional, conventional studies offered by other faculties? — Thanks to its seminars and training, the Filipović Academy complements the knowledge that the students have gained in formal education. We follow global trends and development of technology, and accordingly select and implement them in teaching. We share knowledge and skills with teachers, educate them and use our work to increase their knowledge and digital competences. We follow other scientific fields too where our eminent lecturers do the same. We have accredited 52 programmes, held dozens of professional gatherings, conferences and consultations, and held hundreds of presentations, training sessions and courses to raise digital / IT literacy and modernize the education system. How much does the overall digitization of society affect the way students are educated? How different is the approach of knowledge transfer compared to the earlier passive relationship between a teacher who only talks and a student who only listens? Consequently, to what extent does the Filipović Academy follow modern trends and how do students respond to innovations in their education? — The digital age has changed everything, including the approach and the way we transfer knowledge. We are certainly leaders in monitoring and implementing modern technology in teaching. One example is the tremen-

PROFILES Today, the 965 institutions and 10,318 teachers in Serbia use the E-Portfolio of Teachers and Principals. All of our users are satisfied because the applications they use are designed for them, i.e. tailored to their educational profiles and levels of their digital competencies.


dous effort we have invested in incorporating the world's best educational programme called MozaBook into our educational system and electronic textbooks. After four to five years of continuously presenting the programme, the MozaBook platform began to be implemented by publishing companies, including Vulkan Znanje and Eduka, which put it in their textbooks, which is a huge step in the development of digital textbooks in education and changing access to learning. Many people find it strange that we have no material benefits from this, only a great pleasure which is reflected in the fact that we were able to get Serbian education out of the dark ages in this way, as well as raise the awareness of teachers that they must supplement traditional teaching with modern teaching methods, while applying all available programmes, tools and devices. This approach increases student motivation to actively participate in the learning process, reduces their passivity and develops interactivity and practicality in applying knowledge. Besides, we use state-of-the-art information equipment (interactive whiteboards, touch screen devices, etc..) in our training, and we also organize online training in line with the current educational trends. Do you have plans to further modernize the Academy, both in a technical sense and in the sense of increasing the interactivity in teaching? — We apply our motto “A Step Ahead of Everyone” in everything




we do. Research is our main tool; I use it in all segments. We implement the results obtained in our programmes in the best way possible, which is of great help to teachers and the education system itself. How important is continuous improvement of curricula and is the Academy planning on having new programmes and seminars? — As I said, we are following our slogan “A Step Ahead of Everyone”. We have outstanding programmes and applications that are applicable in education. All employees and all associates of the Filipović Academy are constantly working on personal development. We are learning, researching and transferring our knowledge. I want to involve young people in the education process as much as possible, because they have someone they can learn from, to improve the knowledge and skills acquired through personal research and continuous learning and to best impart them to their colleagues. In November 2019, RCVT and the Filipović Academy reached an agreement on the implementation of joint activities related to the professional development of education staff. Are you satisfied with the collaboration? — We are cooperating with the Regional Centres for Vocational Training (RCVT) from Čačak, Kruševac, Novi Pazar, Užice and Sombor, also with the Serbian Association of Electrical Engineering Schools, the Serbian Association of School Principles, the Serbian Philanthropic Forum, the Serbian Association of Preschool Nurses and many other state and private institutions and organizations, namely with everyone who has selflessly recognized the quality of our work and the contribution we have made to the Serbian education system. We are cooperating with anyone who shares our goals, i.e. raising the quality of work in educational institutions in Serbia, improving teaching and teaching methods, improving the reputation of all educators, and with those people who are selflessly committed to re-engineering the education system in Serbia. Do you think that, after more than a decade since your inception, you have warranted your slogan "A Step Ahead of Everyone"? — We surely have! The Filipović Academy’s team is made up of hard-working educated people who generously share their knowledge and skills with fellow educators, teachers and professors, motivate them in every way and constantly remind them that being a teacher is the most important link in


TEAM The Filipović Academy’s team is made up of hardworking educated people who generously share their knowledge and skills with fellow educators, teachers and professors, motivate them in every way and constantly remind them that being a teacher is the most important link in the society and the social system.

the society and the social system, as well as that they have an enormous responsibility and obligation to teach our children what they have learned and to teach them how to learn for the benefit of societies and countries. Without teachers and their diligent and responsible work, there is no progress or improvement. When teachers praise our work it gives us motivation to be even better and more innovative, to explore and to always be there for them, i.e. "A Step Ahead of Everyone". A number of activities support this claim: • We started training educators long before everyone else; • We have created and implemented e-portfolio applications; • We have created an electronic grade book and an electronic pedagogical notebook; • We have created programmes for electronic record keeping in preschool institutions; • We have created a platform for designing school websites; • We have created a programme for the electronic management of school libraries; • We have created and implemented self-evaluation applications. Will the expulsion of Serbia from the European Association for Quality As-

surance in Higher Education (ENQA) have any impact on the treatment of Serbian diplomas abroad? — This is the worst thing that could have happened to us. It’s a humiliation for all the diligent people who have earned their diplomas and knowledge through hard work and great sacrifices. No-one in the world has challenged the validity of our diplomas and our people have been regarded as outstanding professionals. But now… This is really sad. It is a very big national problem and opens up many questions. Someone should be held responsible. Rather they are giving us arbitrary answers while pulling wool over our eyes. This is, in fact, the culmination of all the irrationality and narcissistic meddling of individuals in the Serbian education system. If education is devastated, it will destroy our state and nationality and we will forget who we are. To avoid the worst happening to us, we need to follow the legacy Saint Sava's father, Simon Mirotočivi who said: "When a language disappears, a nation disappears. Don't put a word from a foreigner into your mouth. If you take someone else's word, know that you have not conquered it, but have lost one of your own. It is better for you to lose the largest and the most formidable town in your country than the smallest and most insignificant word of your language."




We are the first in Serbia to introduce the latest international digital platform – MozaBook C O R P O R AT E

he modern world is extremely abundant in information, so it is a real challenge to encourage students to do research learning and teamwork, thus preparing them for life. The textbooks published by BIGZ Školstvo are real support in this mission. Its editor-in-chief, Marija Živković talks about how this publishing house, with a long tradition, managed to succeed in this endeavour. “We are constantly striving to improve the quality of textbooks and other teaching aids and to elevate the educational system to a higher level, which is a major goal for all of us involved in the educational process. Our new textbook editions, which are harmonized with the reformed curricula, satisfy both the methodology of the subject matter and the practice, thanks to excellent authoring teams. The contents of the textbooks are presented through clear and essential texts, thus facilitating the accomplishment of the defined learning outcomes. " “As a complement to the print textbooks, we have also prepared digital textbooks. We are the first in the Republic of Serbia to introduce the latest international digital platform, MozaBook. In this case, digital technologies are used as support for traditional education and their application enables students to develop their potential to a greater extent. Also, assistance in the pursuit of digital competence - one of the cross-curricular competencies - is essential. BIGZ Školstvo's digital textbooks are incorporated into the project called Digital Classroom, devised by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development, and they are accredited by the Institute for the Advancement of Education and included in the list of digital


textbooks that are recommended for use in teaching. They encourage students to take different approaches when learning, using a multitude of information sources such as 3D animations, videos, educational games, photo galleries and the like. Teachers can use these textbooks to create an educational environment that supports the differentiation and individualization of teaching and learning," Ms Živković said, pointing out: "The interactive E-classroom provides teachers and students with quality, dynamic teaching, harmonized with the latest technological innovations in education“. • Teachers have an easier preparation and execution of classes. • Teachers have complete insight into student results and can thus easily evaluate their achievement.

M A R I JA Ž I V KOV I Ć Editor-in-chief BIGZ školstvo

INFO Digital textbooks are an important support in learning, but a printed textbook is a basic and indispensable teaching tool.

•S  tudents can “walk” through 3D scenes in numerous animations, as if they were playing their favourite games. Most 3D models also have additional narration and tasks. Students are also given the opportunity to perform virtual experiments, thus spotting various phenomena and results in that way. • Students not only find the correct answers using tests but are also encouraged to self-evaluate knowledge. ”Based on all that we have said, it is clear that digital textbooks are extremely important support in learning. However, it should not be forgotten that a printed textbook is a basic and indispensable teaching tool. Developing both concepts in parallel is the best way to bring teaching and learning in line with 21st-century educational trends. "




THE GOAL IS TO INCORPORATE THE DUAL MODEL IN THE SERBIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM Dual education in Serbia today is based on small and medium-sized enterprises I N T E RV I E W

t a recent conference on dual education called "The essence of dual education - Practice is money," Mirjana Kovačević, MBA, from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS), highlighted that the dual education system was only in its infancy and that it was not easy to "erase" the former system, but it should rather be adapted. The implementation of dual education in Serbia's education system began in 2013 through pilot projects supported by Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The coordination of these project activities, first done by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and then through constructive cooperation with the Ministry of Education, a common goal was established which is the incorporation of a dual model into the education system of Serbia. In the first three years, 400 students were enrolled in the dual education system, who had attended classes for three job profiles in 16 schools and 40 companies. Today, in the 2019/2020 school year. 6,100 students are enrolled in dual education and attend classes for 35 job profiles at 72 schools in 48 cities and municipalities and about 800 companies, of which about 80 per cent are micro and small businesses. Following the initiative launched by the business community and with great involvement of the CCIS, Serbia became the first country in the region to adopt the Law on Dual Education in 2017, which has been in force as of the 2019/2020 school year. This law meets



all 14 criteria of the European Council recommendations for quality and effective learning through work. Dual education in Serbia today is seen as one way to build a competitive economy, but many challenges lie ahead. Involvement of more micro and small businesses should be facilitated, as well as classes with less than 30 students should be created, if there is a need for a particular job profile, which will help companies to improve their selection of students. What can Serbia learn about dual education from Switzerland, a country that exemplifies the success of this type of education? — Flexibility and patency in the education system are key principles of the Swiss education system. Their model is a form of public-private partnership where the key partners are state (cantonal) schools and private (small and medium-sized) enterprises. The state plays the role of a mediator by providing the best conditions for companies, encouraging job creation for students and helping young people choose their profession and the company to work for. In Switzerland, about 40% of companies that qualify for dual education are involved in dual education. Because of the benefits of this type of education model, Swiss companies cover the costs of student training for three to four years, generating a profit in the final year of schooling. Salaries range from about 11-13% of the average wage of a skilled worker in a suitable work-

M I RJA NA KOVAČ E V I Ć , M BA Head of the Centre for Education and Dual Education of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia and Director of the Chamber's Business Academy

REFORMS The reforms of the education system in Serbia are slowly but surely moving towards the implementation of the two principles of Swiss education flexibility and patency.

place but are not legally limited. Swiss companies are also influencing the development of curricula, and they innovate every five years to keep pace with changes in production technology. The basic feature of the Swiss model of dual education is a high degree of patency in the system. After passing the additional exam, students are eligible to enrol in regular universities or state polytechnic colleges. The reforms of the education system in Serbia, which have been implemented over the last few years, are slowly but surely moving towards the implementation of the two principles of Swiss education - flexibility and patency. What are the benefits of dual education that should motivate young people to opt for this type of schooling? — The students who were among the first to attend dual education were educated in the manufacturing professions - industrial technician, machinist, welder, electrician. Their experiences are very positive, especially since they were able to implement in practice what they have learned in theory very quickly and found out that working in production does not necessarily entail hard physical work. The public is still insufficiently informed about changes in the status of artisanal and technical jobs in the labour market. Today, these occupations are both sought-after and generally well-paid compared to the average salary in Serbia. At the same time, modern production is based on a high degree of automation and implements


safety standards, which means that working conditions are significantly different than they used to be. Also, these students point out that how quickly they socialized, i.e. got accustomed to the industrial culture, and acquired working habits and self-confidence, so that they were able to propose some improvements and changes in the production process. It is a good thing that older colleagues took their suggestions seriously. Being in a real work environment, they learned responsibility and teamwork and realized that other members of the collective could be in jeopardy due to them not working hard enough or performing poorly. The quick and easy adjustment to work upon graduation is another important advantage. The best part is that they have more options - to work immediately or to continue their education, often with the support of these same companies. Can you tell us which well-known companies have joined the dual education system and what they offer to students? — Dual education in Serbia today rests on the companies that make the majority in the businesses world that is small and medium-sized enterprises, although, initially, it was mostly large companies, especially foreign ones that were the most interested in dual education. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia has submitted to the Ministry of Education a plan for employers to engage more in dual education. Over the next school year, about 900 companies will participate in student education. Close to 350 companies will work with first-grade students. In addition to the ability to acquire functional knowledge and facilitate the development of skills, companies in dual education give students cash compensation equal to 70% of the minimum hourly wage spent on employer-led learning, with associated contributions of 2% for health insurance and 4% for pension and disability insurance. Besides financial compensation, employers are required by law to provide protective equipment, insurance, transportation and food for each student. In what areas should the cooperation of educational institutions and businesses be improved to better plan the staffing needs of the domestic economy? — The experiences of developed countries show that it is not enough for students to be and learn in a real work environment to have better education. For teachers and professors to be able to adequately prepare students for continuous learning in companies, they

must be familiar with modern technical and technological solutions in companies. It is not good when students know more about the relevant production technologies than their teachers. Therefore, companies should also provide teaching staff with periodic shortterm training. Also, the success of dual education requires good cooperation between schools and companies, not only in education but also in promoting dual education job profiles.

OPPORTUNITY The new legal solutions create an opportunity for teachers, researchers and students to form spin-off and start-up companies, as well as the opportunity to engage industry experts in the curriculum.


entific research projects. Establishing a network of employers in a higher education institution forms a local or regional network of companies that, through the implementation of the dual model, will get to know each other, network and start discussing cooperation, which can contribute to regional development.

To what extent are higher education institutions capable and willing to advance the quality of studies to keep up with Europe and the world? — A stimulating regulatory framework has been created. The Law on Higher Education stipulates that all colleges should have Employer Councils. We expect that their concrete contribution should be reflected in better harmonization of curricula with the needs of businesses and the labour market, that is, employers should be more involved in curriculum development. Additionally, the new solutions in this law create the opportunity for teachers, researchers and students to form spinoff and start-up companies, as well as the opportunity to engage an industry expert in teaching. This is extremely

Do you think that our pupils, students and young professionals can compete with their peers and colleagues from abroad? — They can and the numerous accolades they have received in competitions around the world are the best indication of this claim. Our young people are interested, energetic and eager to know. It is up to us to provide them with opportunities for them to develop properly in Serbia. Various studies show that, when choosing a job, our students are primarily guided by the opportunity for their employer to help them to develop their skills. Another criterion for choosing an employer is the ability to work on interesting projects and then the possibility of career advancement, while salary is only in the fourth place. Also, young people want to do the work that they were educated for - to be experts rather than executives. Most val-

important for the development of entrepreneurial education in the higher education system. The Law on Dual Studies was passed last year. Dual studies are expected to contribute to the development of research and innovation because smaller companies are often unable to form research and development teams, primarily because of a lack of appropriate staff. Dual education students can be a link that would demonstrate to companies latest achievements and foster collaboration between universities and companies on the implementation of sci-

ue permanent employment in the form of a permanent job contract with one employer, making them loyal employees. They would also like to have flexible working hours and the option of working from home. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia is engaged in the development of the dual model of education precisely because of the possibility of forming early links between companies and students and the possibility of young people becoming independent and getting involved in the business world as soon as possible.






In a concerted effort with Serbia’s Ministries of Education and Interior, NIS allocated RSD 114.5 MLN to digitalise schools and keep them safe. The funds have been allocated for outfitting the institutions of education located in 12 towns and municipalities of Serbia eeking to strengthen the safety of schoolchildren and upgrade Serbia’s education network, the NIS Company signed the Cooperation Memorandum with Serbia’s Ministries of Interior and Science, Education and Technology Development. Cooperation Agreements have also been exchanged between the NIS Company and local administrations, partners in the "Common Cause Community" social responsibility programme. Within this programme NIS intends to allocate RSD 114.5 million for the benefit of primary and secondary schools located in 12 towns and municipalities of Serbia - Belgrade, Novi Sad, Požarevac, Niš, Čačak, Zrenjanin, Pančevo, Kikinda, Kanjiža, Novi Bečej, Srbobran and Žitište. The funds have been allocated for outfitting the institutions of education located in the above towns with the state-of-the-art safety and information systems and to digitalise the curriculum. NIS, thus, seeks to strengthen the safety of schoolchildren, as well as to provide to students better conditions to acquire knowledge and skills. The Memorandum has been signed by Kirill Tyurdenev, the CEO of the NIS Company, Nebojša Stefanović, Minister of Interior and Mladen Šarčević, Minis-



ter of Science, Education and Technology Development in a ceremony by the Palace of Serbia in Belgrade. The keynote speakers at the ceremony included Aleksandar Antić, Serbia’s Minister of Mining and Power Generation, as well as Zoran Radojičić, Belgrade’s mayor. Kirill Tyurdenev, the CEO of NIS, informed that since 2009, within its "Common Cause Community" programme, his company has completed almost a thousand projects funded with more than a billion RSD. “Community needs are scrutinized through the prism of current state of affairs, invariably looking into the future. In a concerted effort with Serbia’s Government and local administrations we set the priorities. Last year, we focused on children’s health, naturally it remains our mainstay. This year we remain committed to the young. In association with Serbia’s Ministries of Education and Interior, we facilitate streamlining education digitalisation and safety systems in schools“, Tyurdenev said. Nebojša Stefanović, Minister of Interior, acknowledged NIS for upholding Serbia’s quest to boost our country’s population living standards. “It is important that businesses are socially responsible and demonstrate that, in addi-


SUPPORT Being Serbia’s leading social investor, NIS under the motto "Future at Work" has been investing significant funds in the community development, focusing on supporting the young.

tion to making profits in the Republic of Serbia, they can also invest funds in the local areas and improve the town dwellers’ living standards" said Stefanović. Mladen Šarčević, Minister of Science, Education and Technology Development, pointed out that investing in education is the proof that NIS is child-centered. "I want to thank everyone for what this company has done and what it is about to do, and I can freely say that we have become partners. It is especially important that NIS always asks what is necessary and required in order to better respond to the needs of the community" Šarčević said. Aleksandar Antić, Minister of Mining and Power Generation, stated: "NIS company has invested a lot over the last ten years, not only in financial terms, but also in terms of efficiency, new technologies and a whole new perspective on business and social responsibility, which they have put in the first plan in every segment of their business." said Antić. The ceremony has also marked the start of this year’s public competition as part of "Common Cause Community" programme. The projects that will gain funding will be chosen by a Commission comprised of the representatives of the Ministries of Interior, and Science, Education and Technology Development Republic of Serbia, locale communities and the NIS Company. All terms and conditions of the public "Common Cause Community" competition have been posted on: www.nis. eu/zajednici-zajedno, while the competition outcome will be made public before 22nd April 2020. Being Serbia’s leading social investor, NIS under the motto "Future at Work" has been investing significant funds in the community development, focusing on supporting the young. Since 2009, the Company invested more than RSD 3.7 billion in the social responsibility programmes.



WE ENCOURAGE CHILDREN TO USE THEIR EXPERIENCE, POTENTIAL AND RESOURCES Functional knowledge, communication, research and selfmanagement skills are necessary C O R P O R AT E

he century of change, new models of communication and ways of thinking and resources requires a flexible, creative person with a venturous spirit. The IB models implemented at the Rudjer Bošković School are based on inquiry-based learning and conceptual understanding. The aim is to lead children through the research of topics of global significance. The programme pays special attention to the development of personality traits through the IB learner profile.


Why is inquiry-based learning very important for younger school children? — It is important to guide children from the very beginning to approach learning in the same way they face challenges in real-life situations. As in real life, it is important not to give children all the information in advance but to instigate them to use their experience, potential and resources in order to build upon the knowledge they already have and to make them approach the entire process actively. Learning is a dynamic process of constructing meaning and it is an individual thing for every child as it relates to a personal perspective of the world around us. This model is the best applied to children at early ages 5 or 6 years old - as they learn through play. Our task is to prepare an appropriate context and situation in which learning will take place. It is also very important to find areas that a child is especially interested in, as well as to provide constant encouragement and help the child overcome the difficulties her/ she faces during the learning process. What is the best atmosphere for a successful learning process? — Different approaches and methods are adapted to the developmental characteristics of children to stimulate their curiosity, inquiry and the need for learning to initiate action and develop their independence and sense of responsibil-

S L A D JA NA R I ST I Ć Psychologist at Rudjer Bošković Elementary School

ity. Modern approaches to teaching say it is important to provide an appropriate working environment, equip it with resources including digital equipment and not limit teaching to the classroom and by the school bell. Teaching and learning must also take place out of the classroom. At our school, pupils are involved in various activities and projects in science, art, sport and humanitarian work. With close monitoring and support from our teachers, they are given the necessary space for developing their ideas and actions. We provide pupils with the opportunity to present their work at several different events, one of them being the Rudjer Fest. During the Rudjer Fest, students do experiments and show their creativity and knowledge in science, art, cul-

tural heritage and sport. We are developing different personality traits with this kind of approach, which include curiosity, open-mindedness, persistence and dedication necessary for developing self-esteem. At an early age, this is the basis of a well-balanced development. What are the most important skills for success in the 21st century? — Life in the 21st century is full of challenges and we cannot predict what it will be like in the near future nor what young people can expect in the job market. Experience teaches us that adapting quickly, having functional knowledge and thinking, communication, research and self-management skills are necessary. The IB programmes include school children from a very early age in projects, teaching them to cooperate through group work and encourage them to show what they have learnt through various activities. These skills are necessary in order to stage a group exhibition after the 5-year PYP cycle. The exhibition brings students together through collaboration and transdisciplinary research process. This process enables them to recognize, research and come up with solutions for everyday situations of global significance. The exhibition synthesizes the essential elements of the programme and shares them with the entire school community.

IB PROGRAMMES The IB programmes include school children in projects from a very early age, teaching them to cooperate through group work and encourage them to show what they have learnt through various activities.




SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS ARE PART OF A REFORM COMMITTEE Dual education is a necessity for every country in the face of rapid digital change

witzerland has a strong vocational and professional education system (VET). It offers mostly dual-track VET programmes at upper secondary level and broad tertiary-level professional education programmes. Prof. Dr Ursula Renold talkes about specifically this swiss system and Serbian education.



P rof. Dr U R S U L A RENOLD

Switzerland has supported VET reforms in many countries for more than 60 years. Why do you think that dual education is an important topic for Serbia? — Dual education is a necessity for every country in the face of rapid digital change. This rapid change in the world of work poses a challenge for schools and universities alike, as they are generally unable to respond so quickly to change, adapt their curricula accordingly and train prospective professionals in the best technologies. Those who can combine learning at school and at work at the same time have a comparative advantage. One is automatically trained on the best technologies in the workplace and can learn from several role models regarding soft skills. Why is dual education important for the Serbian economy? — Companies often complain that they cannot find the highly qualified workforce and therefore cannot drive productivity and growth in line with the other framework conditions. From research on vocational training in Germany and Switzerland, we know why companies train and that self-trained apprentices are highly likely to be able to continue working in the company or to find a job with another company in the same sector. If a country succeeds in training a large part of the talent


INNOVATION Dual education also drives innovation, which can help companies reach and push the innovation frontier.

pipeline itself, they have the best prerequisites to increase productivity and thus growth. Dual education also drives innovation, which can help companies reach and push the innovation frontier. To what extent is the Swiss model of dual education applicable in Serbia? — It is an illusion to believe that one system can be transferred from one country to another. The economic, social and especially cultural conditions are too different. Research, on the other hand, can help to understand the functions that make up an efficient dual system and to apply them in diverse socio-economic and socio-cultural contexts. Evidence already shows that different contexts—in terms of labor market regulations, union density, and other factors—can successfully have dual education systems as long as they are adapted to fit the context. Take the function of professional associations. These are mostly organisations of companies that have joined forces to secure young talent in an industry. They support the creation of professional profiles, partly also curricula and organise, for example, the training of instructors. Such associations make it possible for small and medium-sized enterprises to provide training because they are supported by the association in terms of content and methodology. Switzerland has around 400 such professional associations. Serbia also has industry associations and a very strong Chamber of Commerce and Industry. But not all industry associations today have a function comparable to that of Switzerland. The new dual education law already assigns CCIS a very important role. In addition, Serbia has Sector Skills Councils, which can in the future play a role comparable to that of the Swiss professional associations.

However, the development of such institutions needs time and intensive dialogue so that everyone can understand the benefits of this joint partnership. What is the difference in understanding dual education in Serbia and Switzerland? — I focus on three main differences, i.e. 1. the creation of framework curricula for an occupation, 2. the characteristics of what dual education is and 3. how companies find apprentices and conversely how apprentices find their respective companies. In Switzerland, industry associations lead the way in creating a new occupational profile and the associated curriculum. Schools and teachers are part of a reform committee. But according to the law, business has the right to submit an application to the ministry. In Serbia, firstly, the school curriculum is separated from the company curriculum and secondly, the Ministry of Education has a much more important steering competence. In Serbia, two models of dual education currently co-exist, which makes it difficult to help break through the new requirements of the law. If companies provide training in Switzerland, there are clear rules which must be observed. In particular, no company may provide training if it does not pay the apprentice an apprentice's wage that in Switzerland averages 20% of the monthly wage of a fully trained skilled worker. There is development potential here in Serbia. In Switzerland, 14-year-olds are exposed to a market for the first time in order to find an apprenticeship. This is called the apprenticeship market, which exists as an Internet platform where supply and demand for apprenticeships meet. In Serbia this is carried out in a relatively complicated


process by school coordinators and the MoESTD. The evaluation of the implementation of the new dual education law will show whether this approach will prove successful. In your opinion, to what extent does the introduction of dual education help address the looming shortage of high-quality workers and make Serbia more competitive in creating new jobs? — Dual education is an important prerequisite for providing skilled workers and improving economic prosperity. The highly qualified, practice-oriented skilled workers it creates can contribute to increasing the productivity of companies. Companies can use the creativity of their skilled workers to generate innovative products and processes. Our research on the Swiss companies' pool of skilled workers shows that a good mix of skilled workers with dual VET and academic education improves companies' innovation performance. What has Serbia achieved so far in the field of dual education and what has not? — The Serbian parliament has already passed a dual education law, which is in the implementation phase. The first

year with student enrolment under the new law started this September. It is gratifying that there is a great deal of interest on the part of the companies and that work is being carried out with great time pressure to implement all the regulations of this law in conformity with it. I am also very positive about the close cooperation between CCIS and the Ministry of Education and its related institutions. This is not a matter of course, but this cooperation is a necessary prerequisite for strengthening dual education. As in every other country that implements such a complex project, there is still a need for clarification among various stakeholder groups. Our first research results on accompanying the implementation show that the key stakeholder groups are generally aware of the law and very willing to do their part. As we move into the more complex phases of implementation where actors have to make real changes and fully understand the law, there will be challenges and that is normal. The ongoing leadership from CCIS and the MoESTD, combined with companies and schools continuing their efforts on the practical end, is a good recipe for success. Good communication and sharing of information will be critical. One observation we make

MODELS In Serbia, two models of dual education currently co-exist, which makes it difficult to help break through the new requirements of the law.


from a research perspective is that Serbia still allows various competing approaches to dual education. This can be explained by the historical development. However, it does not simplify communication with all those involved. There is a need for action here. Furthermore, it will also be important to show companies the economic benefits of dual education. We will conduct a cost-benefit study this year, to find out whether the Serbian dual model behaves like those in countries with successful dual education systems, namely that companies’ cost-benefit ratio is balanced, or even positive as it is in Switzerland. When the system has strong curricula and good quality assurance mechanisms like final exams, companies’ earning benefits is a sign of a win-win for companies and students. The students in these companies have the chance to do more important work, so they learn more and have better skills. This would be a valuable insight for attracting more companies to dual education. If Serbia succeeds in winning the companies for this dual education and also in paying the VET student an appropriate salary, then the essential prerequisites will have been created for establishing the system in the longer term.





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