As part of the youth program, the Education Centre Leskovac launched a youth program in 2002. Since that period, the youth program has changed from the implementation of activities to the implementation of the planned program aimed at developing the skills and competencies of young people to become informed and active members of society and to increase their own employability.
Today, the Education Centre Leskovac runs an informal education program for children and youth on issues such as values, ethics, communication and conflict resolution, teamwork, volunteerism, youth activism, anti-discrimination and human rights protection, project management and youth employability.
Informal educational activities include direct work with young people - workshops, peer education, performing arts (Forum theatre, plays, photographs, comics and dance), public events, youth exchange, youth information and volunteer services. Support for young people from vulnerable groups is the focus of all our programs. The Education Centre Leskovac implements its programs working in partnership with the community, other civic associations, the media, local and national authorities, building trust and cooperation in order to support a prosperous, responsible and tolerant society.
As current challenges regarding the inclusion of children from low SES background in their community they point out:
"Lack of knowledge and information among the community members about the fact that low socio-economic status of children leads to discrimination, fewer opportunities, lack of sense for personal safety, increased feeling of uncertainty and the social exclusion of those children in every community including ours. Those challenges are emphasised with the low level of cooperation between the all society members in dealing with this issue. Each of the parties involved in the improving of life of children from low SES background implements the measures/activities by itself without involving others. Also, parents, who need to show crucial interest, are often seen completely separated from the creating the measures, especially those created in educational institutions and completely not involved in the processes due to personal prioritization in which school and education are set low".
The Education Centre believes that addressing the inequality and discrimination in school life and lack of inter-sectoral and cooperation of different stakeholders are the most important obstacles to address. Creation of positive school environment for all children is necessary for the personal development into active and responsible members of society and that should be priority.
“The issue of inclusion of children from low SES background in the life of the community and school life should be done with special emphasis on the following factors:
Identification of students and their individual and joint needs for additional support
- Professional support of teaching and non-teaching staff
- Peer organization and support activities
- Parent/guardian involvement models
- Participation of the wider community”
Regarding the participation in the ARISE project, the Education Centre Leskovac explains:
“As the objective of the ARISE project is to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to participate in policy development and advocacy in the field of equality in education through regional cooperation and networking at the national level, we recognize the Education Centre as a CSO that has sufficient capacity to educate about equality in education and participate in policy development and advocacy. An important precondition for the long-term impact of the support to students lays in building conditions for positive school climate, i.e. culture of understanding, respect and equality. Since actors in the school system are not only students, but also teachers, professional associates, other school staff, but also parents and the local community, make the climate positive and stimulating becoming a complex job that involves everyone. Regional exchange and capacity building activities that ARISE project provides will enable organisation and its professionals to address the problem and the respond to its complexity”.