March 18, 2021 | Thursday

Interview of the month – Sanela Mackic

Interview with Sanela Mackic – Plemetina Learning Center Coordinator

Can you tell us more about the Plemetina Learning Center?

This center exists since 2008 in Plemetina, and all these years the largest projects and programs have been focused on the education of preschool and school age children from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. Over the years, the age and number of children who attended the center changed depending on the needs of the children as well as the donations that supported the center and the center’s own program. Today, the program is attended by about 60 children, form the first to the fifth grade of elementary school.  This program is implemented by a facilitator (educator) and three tutors (volunteers) in direct work with children.

Our main purposes are to provide a comprehensive and innovative curriculum that provides a strong academic and social foundation for future success.  Providing services to children through a dedicated and motivated, equipped with the necessary competencies and well-trained team, who has common goals and maintains a professional code of conduct.

Mission of LCN (Learning Center Network) is to support the success of children in schools, their families and their community through an integrated educational and developmental program, in a safe and encouraging learning environment.

What is the educational program the centre provides and what for what ages?

The centers operate according to the PACE program (Planned Activities for Cohesive Education), which is designed to provide children with practical learning experiences, through activities that complement the school curriculum, outside the traditional classroom setting. In addition to language and math, the curriculum also covers natural and social sciences, life and work, health activities as well as the arts, and to a large extent the socio-emotional development of children. Children from the first to the fifth grade of elementary school attend our center (6 to 11 years old).

The centre has been established in 2008.  Since then what impact did it have in the development of young children? 

More precisely, the center exists since 2008, and has really had a great impact on the overall development of preschool and school-age children from the Roma community in Plemetina. A lot of success has been achieved through the years, but I will list only a few: Raised awareness of the importance of education reflected in regular school attendance, reduced school dropout to a minimum, higher number of girls attending school compared to boys (previously girls completed only 4 grade and a maximum of 8 grade of elementary education), as well as increased overall schooling success with children who regularly attend the center.

What are the main challenges the centre faces today?

There are many challenges we face every day, but currently is this situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, considering the fact that the implementation of our activities is difficult and limited, and therefore donations and supports to the center are less and less focused on our program.

All across the world vulnerable groups were hit the hardest by Covid-19 pandemic, especially in education.  How difficult it has been for the centre, and what was the strategy you applied to improvise and adapt to changes? 

Like everyone else, we’ve had to adapt to this situation. There were a lot of challenges and difficulties, but we switched our activities online. It was difficult to implement all this because many families were without internet and weren’t equipment for this type of teaching, but through projects and donations we solved this situation and enabled children to be able to follow both school classes and our activities. The staff of the center was in the field in all situations and we did everything in our power to meet basic needs during this situation and to ensure that the families and children who use our center are safe. Once the school started working again we have formed smaller groups with children, while adhering to all protective measures we had to shorten the working hours for our activities.

Your message to young people interested in supporting the centre or conducting community work?

We are always open for cooperation, for the exchange of experience and knowledge, for new ideas and everything with a view to a better future for all children and young people.