Knowledge Is Power: Promoting the Voice of Roma Students in the Education System in Serbia

Knowledge is Power engages young Roma in Serbia in a creative way and encourages them to be a part of Serbia’s education system in a music video that premiered online on September 29. Shot primarily in two vocational schools in Belgrade, and written and performed under the mentorship of Danijel Rasitovic, a founding member of the leading Roma Serbian hip-hop collective Roma Sijam, Knowledge is Power addresses the current realities and aspirations of Serbia’s Roma youth.

Serbian Roma youth make up a significant part of Serbian society, with more than one quarter of new entrants in the labor market in the Republic of Serbia. However, less than 20 percent that have finished high school, most frequently with a vocational qualification. REF believes that this number could be increased with the proper inclusion of Roma children in the education system, from elementary schools to universities.

“It is my honor and pleasure to have the opportunity to be a part of the campaign Knowledge is Power and to work with these young and talented people. During the preparations for filming the music video from March to May we have organized a total of 12 workshops, which included lessons in slamming, singing, acting and dancing. As a result of hard and dedicated work, we have created this video that you had the opportunity to see today and which we are very proud of,” said Danijel Rasitovic, Roma Sijam and added “The video was filmed with the highest professional standards and nine of Roma children from Belgrade, aged 16 to 24, participated in the video.”

“The Roma Education Fund is working in the region since 2005 to promote equal access to quality education for Roma. In Serbia we are currently implementing a Secondary School Scholarship Program with the support of the Serbian Ministry of Education, ahich includes over 500 Roma high school students. Apart from this, The Roma Education Fund in Serbia manages a network of RomaVersitas centers in Novi Sad and Nis providing academic support for Roma university students, runs five Toy Libraries in small towns and has awarded over 1000 scholarships for university studies since 2005,“ said Jelica Nikolic, Roma Education Fund, Country Coordinator for Scholarship Program.

“Knowledge is Power is a two-month-long campaign which aims to find the best young lyricists among Romani children and youth on the theme of education. The competition is open until the end of November for children and youth under age 20, when a jury of REF representatives will select the best young lyricist and the best group performance, with foreign-language lessons being the main prize,“ said Miklos Barna, Consultant to Roma Education Fund.

Submissions for the competitions can be made directly to: Znanj3j3moc@gmail.com

About The Roma Education Fund (REF) in Serbia

The Roma Education Fund (REF) is a private foundation working in the region since 2005 to promote equal access to quality education for Roma, including advocacy, grants, policymaking, scholarships and technical assistance. The Fund operates in 16 countries and reaches over 100,000 beneficiaries a year. The Roma Education Fund in Serbia manages a nationwide secondary scholarship program for Roma high school students at risk of dropping out, supports a network of RomaVersitas centers in Novi Sad and Nis providing academic support for Roma university students, runs five Toy Libraries in small towns and has awarded over 1,000 scholarships for university studies in Serbia since 2005.