Universal Children’s Day – press release

Photo credits :Roxana Todea

Source: Network of Child Focused Organizations (MODS) – Serbia and World Vision

Belgrade, November 20th 

On the occasion of Universal Children’s Day the Network of Child Focused Organizations (MODS) and World Vision are calling upon government of Republic of Serbia to place child protection as one of its priorities and we are drawing attention to some of the problems that characterize the life of children in Serbia- child’s poverty, unequal access to the quality health protection and education, exclusion of poorest children from the social protection programs. 

We are calling upon Government of Serbia to continue with reform processes that should allow inclusion and equal opportunities of all children, including necessary changes in systems of education, health and social protection that would guarantee that children from most vulnerable groups can exercise their rights.

In the first place, we must not allow the decrease in quality of education and health systems. They can either enable social cohesion or increase differences between the rich and the poor.

We are calling for 5 measures that should be undertaken in the forthcoming period:

  1. Decrease poverty of children– The children are most exposed to poverty. The financial support to family is low and procedures are over complicated. In result, three out of five children that have right on child’s benefit, are not using it. Almost 200 000 children are below the poverty line.
  1. Improve quality of health protection. The costs of health treatments should be decreased, the equipment should be modernized and conditions of hospital treatments improved. It should be possible for parents to accompany their children in hospitals during treatments without additional stress and expenses.

3. Include all children in quality education. In spite of obligatory inclusion, some children are still excluded from the system of education. Only 48% of children attend preschool education and the access to kindergardens is 3 times better for children from wealthier families than those from the poorest ones.

Up to 46 million euro is needed in order to include children that are not attending pre school education at the moment, to 3-4 hours pre school programs. 

Only 8% of Roma children are attending pre school education, which is 5 times less than in general population. The obligatory primary education is attended by 89%, and only 19% of children in secondary school age are attending secondary schools. Considering children with disabilities, out of 797 children and youth that were placed in institutions none  attended regular primary or secondary school, and only 19.3% attended special schools in 2011. 

  1. Allow children life in the family Children with disabilities are still being placed in isolated institutions, although they should be allowed to live in family and community. In almost 70% of cases, the main reason for placing a child in institution is that parents cannot respond to the child’s needs.

5. Protect children from violence Around 30% of children in Serbia are being raised by use of only non violent methods. As much as two thirds  of children aged 2 to 14 experienced some kind of psychological aggression or physical violence.

For these reasons we expect from Government of Serbia to continue with reforms of child protection, harmonization of actions and measures in different sectors and public services for children, establishing of systemic information base about the situation of children and services available for them, inclusion of children in education, increase in number and availability of services for vulnerable groups of children, and monitoring and guaranteeing the implementation of adopted measures so that they can have a true effect on position of children in Serbia.

The press release is also available (in Serbian) on the Network of Child Focused Organizations (MODS) website.