The EU-financed project “Second Chance – Systemic Development of Functional Elementary Education of Adults (FEEA)” was launched in Serbia in 2010. The need to develop this kind of educational programme was based on the data from the last two decades, which show a significant number of adults above 15 years of age who had dropped out from school before acquiring their first diploma or never went to school at all. The latest data from the 2011 Census confirmed these statistics – 2.68% of citizens are illiterate, 11% of adults did not complete elementary education, 20.76% of adults only completed elementary school without acquiring any vocational skills. An additional challenge was the fact that the existing schooling system in elementary education was not adapted to adults’ needs.
In order to reform its educational system, The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, with 4 million euros granted by the European Union and with the support of relevant national institutions, launched the “Second Chance” pilot project implemented by GOPA Consultants.
As a result of this project, more than 5,000 adults got their “Second Chance” to complete elementary education and acquire functional knowledge and skills to enable them to enter the labour market. The FEEA programme is piloted in 70 public elementary schools across the country, with 1,200 teachers who passed the necessary training to work with adults. A network of partner institutions at the national and local levels was set up in order to support the FEEA implementation, mostly from the sectors of education, social protection, employment, local self-governance etc.
Two surveys on the FEEA participants implemented at the beginning of the programme and at the end of the pilot demonstrate that the participants are mostly young people between 15 and 25 years of age. The majority of them are unemployed (62%) or working in the grey zone (18%). The final survey shows that, after they completed the FEEA programme, the participants feel more confident (84% of those interviewed). They are also more satisfied with their life (60.2%) and with their perspective (59.3%).
The project team dedicated special attention to the raising of awareness on the importance of FEEA for the society. Through an integrated communication campaign, the project succeeded to inform stakeholders, FEEA participants and the general public about the benefits of the “Second Chance” and to promote the culture of learning in adult life. Strategically placed stories in media showed a striking image of people from social margins, who live in poverty but find hope for a better life through education.
Serbia got an efficient and modern programme to decrease the illiteracy rate, and it is up to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development to introduce it into the regular system of education. The project, implemented by GOPA Consultants in consortium with the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) and dvv-international, is ending in 2013.