Consultation on REF Serbia Country Strategy

The consultation on REF Serbia country strategy took place in Belgrade, Serbia, on April 20th. The meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, and representatives of Roma NGOs, the League for the Decade of Roma Integration, the National Council of Roma National Minority, the Roma Secretariat and the Advisor to the Prime Minister on national minorities have participated in the discussion.

The REF strategy for Serbia  was sent to the participants in advance, and presented at the meeting. The participants found the document very useful and stimulating for organising further actions based on strategic priorities, for discussion with Government and creating synergies with other donors.

The topics raised by the participants concerned the need for adequate data collection, and setting up an appropriate monitoring system for all activities in education throughout the Decade, where REF assistance was requested. However, the major topic of discussion was the urgent need for collaborative action in order to prevent the potential risk for Roma posed by the introduction of the compulsory preschool year starting September 2006. In a situation when many Roma children lack appropriate identification papers, have problem of accessing health care, and the preschool facilities are lacking space there is a realistic risk that Roma will not be able to enrol, and the education gap will further increase. The consultative meeting also gave the opportunity for the participants to exchange experiences and discuss future cooperation. Based on the feedback from the consultative meeting, the Strategy note will be revised then  sent to the Ministry of Education and other Government agencies involved in the Decade of Roma Integration for comments, and shared with donors in Serbia.