By Ivan Karanovic, member of Rotary Club Belgrade Skadarlija (Serbia) and lead for a global grant project
To ensure Rotary continues to attract passionate members, we must invest in our future leaders. By focusing on basic education and literacy projects, we develop future leaders that will catapult Rotary forward. Youth faced with disaster or living in disaster struck areas are in need of our support and assistance to ensure they have strong futures ahead of them.
Terrible floods struck the Balkan countries in May 2014. The city of Obrenovac, in southwest Serbia, was greatly impacted. Homes, schools, public buildings and peoples’ lives were destroyed. Everyone in the region offered their support by volunteering, rescuing people trapped in their homes, and by working with the government and NGOs to donate resources including food and clothes. The scale of the floods was massive and every effort made a difference.
School buildings were strongly affected by these floods. Most classrooms were damaged and students had to be moved to different schools. The chairs, tables, doors, electricity, and floors in each classroom was completely unusable. On top of that, the flooded classrooms became a potential health hazard for children. We knew we had to focus our flood relief efforts on these children and their school to ensure they still had a bright future ahead of them.
Building on the idea of investing in our youth, our Rotary Club of Belgrade Skadarlija decided to support three schools in Obrenovac, Serbia. Inspired by the Rotary Foundation’s guidelines for basic education and literacy projects, we wanted to help these students get back their lives and plan ahead for their future. We decided to invest in school equipment for technology classrooms, teaching programs and education methods for teachers.
Partnering with the Rotary Club of Cesena in Italy and with the support of the Rotary Foundation, we began working on a Global Grant project valued at US $102,000, which was presented at the 8th Multi-Club Workshop held in Ischia, Italy, in September 2014. The Rotary Club of Cesena became our international partner and we collaborated with eight other clubs from D2072 and other clubs from D 2483 on this global grant. After two years of working on the project, we achieved our goal and were able to provide 55 computers, 21 laptops, 20 interactive boards, 20 projectors, a 3D printer, along with complementary training for teachers.
The formal handover of the equipment was attended by students, teachers, representatives of municipal authorities, as well as Rotarians from Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. Nearly 2900 students were thrilled to receive new equipment that gives them the opportunity to develop their creativity and learn through multimedia methods.
In the next phase of the project, we are shifting our focus onto teachers. We aim to give them the opportunity to attend trainings on improving their teaching methods and ensuring sustainability in education. During 2017, 45 professors will attend a 5-day training session, which will be organized in cooperation with the Petnica Science Center in Valjevo, Serbia. During this training, teachers will have the chance to learn about new teaching methods, evaluate their current programs and exchange ideas with other teachers.
Members of Rotary Club Belgrade Skadarlija are very grateful to all the Rotary clubs and districts that supported this project and proud of the successful Global Grant project management and implementation. By investing in new equipment and training teachers to effectively teach students, we wanted to demonstrate our strong determination to building a better educational future for children!