Photo: UNDP/H.Čalkić

Thirty new pupils have been enrolled to the recently enlarged kindergarten in Čelinac, where they will seek education while their parents will be able to continue working.

Dragana Bijelić’s son was on a waiting list for the enrolment into the only kindergarten in Čelinac due to the kindergarten’s limited capacity. As the boy's mother explains, an early enrolment to the kindergarten was recommended by health experts as he needed to be exposed to more frequent interactions with other children.

“The kindergarten was recommended and then we had to wait for a very long time for his enrolment since there was no available place”, says Dragana. “At the beginning we had to deal with a little bit of crying, but he has fitted in by now. The kindergarten is well equipped, and it has everything that children need”.

Today, Dragana’s son is one of the thirty pupils enrolled in the kindergarten “Neven” after its enlargement was supported through the Local Integrated Development (LID) Project financed by European Union and implemented by United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The new group has joined their fellow pupils, attaining the number of 150 enrolled children.

The son of Mrs. Rajna Savić, an elementary school art teacher in Čelinac, is also one of the recently registered children.

Photo: UNDP/H.Čalkić

“The kindergarten represents a change for him, but he fit in and enjoys going now”, she says, relieved to have found an environment that will take care of her son while she is working.

The kindergarten “Neven” was built in 1975 to welcome 120 pupils, which is not enough to cover the growing demand of the last few years. The kindergarten averaged a total of 70 to 80 pupils and closed only in 2014 for three months, due to the floods that strucked the region. However, in 2016, the number of pupils seeking enrolment overcame the available places and waiting lists were established. Later on, the number of children on the list grew to a hundred, putting parents in a position in which they had to choose between taking care of their children or going to work. All these elements led the citizens of Čelinac to submit a request to the local authorities to expand the infrastructure of the kindergarten. Even with the larger capacities, the need for further enlargement subsists.

“We truly have a problem, even now that we adapted the kindergarten to a larger group of pupils. But 30 families are satisfied. Now, through the enlargement, we improved the living standard”, says Milijana Topić, the deputy mayor of the Čelinac municipality.

A more responsible approach to the community

The kindergarten enlargement is one of the priorities of the “2017- 2026 Čelinac Municipality Development Strategy” that has been prepared within the Local Integrated Development Project. The strategy has also recognized the local community’s needs for the building of a new business district, the creation of an economic council, the renewal of elementary schools, the improvement of the civilian protection, the protection of the environment as well as other projects.

A development strategy already existed but was not taken as seriously as the new one, towards which a more responsible approach has been adopted.

“The working methods are changing in comparison to the last period thanks to the methodology used to design the strategy, which did not only imply the establishment of a strategy but also its following, the adaptation of the budget and the realistic planning of projects” says Miroslav Babić, the coordinator to the Čelinac municipality, highlighting that the local management has not established the strategy by themselves, but that the representatives of the NGO sector, economic sector, public institutions as well as the local community contributed greatly to the fulfilment of the strategy. “During the design of the strategy, every citizen could suggest a project and we would make a selection later on”, adds Babić.

Photo: UNDP/H.Čalkić

The municipality representatives say that employers have turned to them, with questions and initiatives to enlarge the kindergarten capacity so that their employees could come to work. The biggest enterprises in Čelinac, in which many of the parents are employed, are operating in the field of production of automated components for households, shoes, metal and wood industry for export, meaning that the realisation of the project directly contributed to the local economic development.

Better understanding of the local community through education

The social responsibility of enterprises towards their community is an important factor in the building of a better future for children and in that, Gloria Line, a sock producing company from Banja Luka, leads as an example. Every year, they open their doors to the first-grade pupils and allow them to see what the production process looks like.

Photo: UNDP/H.Čalkić

“That is a kind of practical lecture that should be adopted by as many schools as possible”, says Nataša Zrnić, the Banja Luka elementary school “Stanko Rakita” pedagogue. She also adds that the visit to the factory has been a tradition for a few years, since children learn way better while observing the process than by listening in class.

Seven-years-old Filip Milinković stated during his visit to the factory that he saw how the socks were knitted and that he, together with his other classmates, brought a drawing of the socks he would like to make. “I figured the sock could be yellow and blue, with stars on the inside”. His friend Dunja Krkeljaš declared that the perfect socks for her would be red, with a purple stripe and three little white flowers.

Photo: UNDP/H. Čalkić

Jasna Jović, the Gloria Line CEO, explained that the precedent year, a design has been selected to be manufactured from the pupils’ drawings and offered to the class “so that they could see how an idea can be brought to life”. This company is part of the employment approach of the LID project under which the European Union, through UNDP, financed the acquisition of three machines that allowed the production of additional female model sizes and various samples in different colours that optimised the utilisation of the existing machinery.

Photo: UNDP/H.Čalkić

Cooperating with medium and small enterprises, the improvement of conditions for children and parents, the stimulation of employment and life quality are the very fields on which the Local Integrated Development project aims to act, with the end goal of ameliorating the standard of living for more than 100.000 Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens.

This project is a part of the EU program for Local Development and Employment, and in cooperation with the local authorities, UNDP through the LID project, works on the establishment of the mechanisms and the resources needed for social and economic development.

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