Serbian YouthBelgrade is Serbia’s capital, with a population of over 1.7 million people. With a 40% youth unemployment rate, large numbers of Serbs were forced to leave the country and search for work elsewhere. Unemployment in Serbia is significantly higher than the European average and one of the country’s significant economic challenges is the need for private-sector job creation. In the last 12 months, Serbia has had 62 startups with $0 in total funding. More than ever, the country is in need of a program like Impact Hub to help Serbian youth.

Impact Hub

Impact Hub was founded in London in 2005 and now has over 7,000 members in more than 60 locations, one of which is Belgrade. The program is funded by USAID and assists young innovators in accessing the tools they need to connect with investors because unsuccessful funding is the biggest obstacle for startups. On Impact Hub’s website, online visitors can become “Impact Angels” and invest in a startup in minutes.

Impact Hub assists in the development of new products and business models. The program focuses on technological innovators and entrepreneurs and the future of their businesses. The organization provides collaborative workspaces, program support, an inspirational environment and diversity.

Impact Hub Belgrade offers young entrepreneurs resources such as acceleration and connections to grow their business. It is both a community center and a business incubator. The program encourages the sharing and building of a community and the space in which the project operates is used to organize events, from arts and culture to entrepreneurship.

Guiding Young Entrepreneurs

Impact Hub founders believe talent allows for growth and production. Since many young people know how to code, design and create innovative solutions, Impact Hub aims at helping  Serbian youth grow their startups. The program secures investments and teaches young people about using money in competitive markets. Impact Hub wants to get young entrepreneurs out of their comfort zone to expand their network. There are two different paths that Impact Hub employees guide entrepreneurs through. The first is “Core Competence for Market Validation,” in which individuals learn how to get the first buyer, expand their customers and make financial projections. The second is “Growth Readiness” and focuses on profiling a buyer, expanding traction and creating revenue models.

Impact Hub Belgrade implemented an initiative called We Founders, in which startup teams, founders, leaders and business developers can connect and work to improve their businesses. Impact Hub helps form partnerships to allow people to share the risks and prepare together for possible losses.

Impact Hub is Positively Impacting

Participants of Impact Hub raised $230,000 in investments from the Serbian public sector and private investors, not including a $100,000 investment from Dubai’s Innovation Impact Grant Program.

Alongside USAID, Impact Hub Belgrade gives Serbian youth the chance to see their innovations and ideas come to life. Outside of Belgrade, Impact Hub is available worldwide to allow individuals the opportunity to receive education regarding the tools and skills necessary for creating a business.

– Rachel Durling
Photo: Flickr

Youth in Serbia
Serbia is a European country that was formerly a part of Yugoslavia. Located in the West-Central Balkans, it is surrounded by Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia. The majority of the population is of South Slavic origin and they speak Serbo-Croatian, which is nearly the same language that the Croats, Bosniaks, and Montenegrins speak.

Over time, a majority of Serbia’s population migrated to the capital city Belgrade from more rural areas. As recently as 2018 however, 43.9% of the people in Serbia still lived in the countryside. In 1945, when the country was still part of the former Yugoslavia, Serbians were under a socialist economic system. Although some free-market characteristics were later adopted in 1948, there was still a large emphasis on socialist self-management.

Youth Unemployment

Today, the youth in Serbia have been consistently making efforts to promote and provide a platform for entrepreneurship among young citizens. Near Belgrade—which has been a center for innovation and entrepreneurship over recent years—is the Impact Hub Belgrade.

One problem affecting the economy in Serbia is related to job availability among young citizens. The unemployment rate among youth is 40%, so providing employment opportunities to these citizens would impact a large portion of the population that is struggling to enter the job market or start businesses.

As a result of poor job opportunities, large numbers of young Serbians leave Serbia in search of work elsewhere. If the youth had more accessible jobs and economic opportunities, it may be more compelling for them to stay and stimulate their own economy, as opposed to the economies of other countries.

Impact Hub

Impact Hub focuses on supporting young entrepreneurs by strengthening their networks with investors in order to attract their investments. This provides an economic foundation for businesses to operate and produce goods and services.

One of the programs initiated by Impact Hub was called the Launch Pad, which provided these young entrepreneurs not only with tools needed to create new products, but with training to broaden their business skills. In addition, the program helped the youth in Serbia develop business models and connect with investors at home and abroad. This program received grants from USAID to help with funding.

Even though the program has ended, it raised a total of $230,000 from the domestic public sector, as well as from the private sector both at the national and international levels. Investments continued, including a $100,000 fund from the Innovation Impact Grant Program in Dubai.

Continued Efforts and Progress

Serbia’s economic freedom score by 2020 has increased by 2.1 points, bumping it to 66.0, and it saw GDP growth as recently as 2018. Even though Serbia has faced numerous economic difficulties since its independence, there are efforts being taken by its citizens to drive and stimulate the economy. The youth in Serbia have especially taken notable actions and the country continues to be supported by the USAID and many other programs and countries domestically and internationally.

Fahad Saad
Photo: Pixabay

Youth Entrepreneurship in Serbia
Serbia is a southeastern European country with an upper-middle-income economy. It ranks relatively high on the Human Development Index (63rd), Social Progress Index (53rd) and the Global Peace Index (54th). However, the nation suffers from high unemployment, especially in the youth population: Serbia recorded a youth unemployment rate of 30.3% in 2019. The lack of entry-level jobs consequently drives many young Serbians to flee their home country in search of work elsewhere. However, USAID has invested in an inventive solution to this problem: initiatives to promote youth entrepreneurship in Serbia.

Impact Hub Belgrade—Fostering Youth Entrepreneurship

USAID’s most notable endeavor is Impact Hub Belgrade. Impact Hub is a USAID-funded global network focusing on establishing entrepreneurial communities in cities worldwide. Serbia’s Impact Hub is located in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital city. It specifically focuses on youth entrepreneurship, helping youth-led start-ups to attract potential regional and international investors. In particular, it helps hone and validate young entrepreneurs’ business models, providing them with the materials and skills needed to turn their ideas into reality. Insufficient access to finance is the number-one challenge young entrepreneurs face. Therefore, Impact Hub dedicates itself to eliminating this obstacle and creating boundless opportunities for young Serbians. The program celebrated its fifth anniversary in December 2019.

Impact Hub Belgrade also prioritizes gender equality in its work. While Impact Hub Belgrade has a special focus on youth, it also recognizes the unique barriers that young female entrepreneurs face. On its anniversary in December, Impact Hub launched Women Entrepreneurs (WE) Founders, the first Serbian female investment group dedicated to fostering and supporting gender-diverse entrepreneurial teams and companies. Some of its techniques include ensuring women have an equal role in decision making, building trusting relationships between men and women in the workplace and encouraging women to take leadership positions.

Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement is another USAID-funded entrepreneurial program. The program is a training curriculum with the intention of teaching Serbian high school students the essentials of entrepreneurship. These essentials include writing business plans, identifying product placement and forecasting earnings. It ensures Serbian high school graduates enter the job market with the technical skills necessary to successfully establish a business. And while Junior Achievement programs are present throughout Europe, Serbia’s is among the strongest; in 2018, Belgrade hosted the European Student Company Competition, where 39 student-led companies from across the continent convened to present their businesses to a jury of prominent Serbian entrepreneurs.

Non-Governmental Organizations

Non-governmental organizations also support young entrepreneurs. A notable example is Smart Kolektiv, an independent nonprofit organization with the stated purpose of promoting youth entrepreneurship in Serbia. Smart Kolektiv assists young entrepreneurs in establishing their businesses. Its hope is that Serbia’s youth will use their power to drive positive social change.

Success in Entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneur success stories abound across Serbia. One example of lucrative youth entrepreneurship in Serbia is Nikica Marinkovic’s Box System, an eco-friendly replacement for styrofoam designed to transport organic produce. Thanks to Impact Hub, Marinkovic gained funding from Austrian investors and U.S. markets that allowed him to expand his business.

Encouraging youth entrepreneurship in Serbia is just one way to encourage young Serbians to stay in their home country and fulfill their dreams. However, the popularity of these initiatives and their encouraging results also demonstrate that fostering youth entrepreneurship is a lucrative option for Serbia’s economy. Prosperous, youth-led operations continue to emerge throughout Serbia, from independent coffee shops to cutting-edge technologies.

Abby Tarwater
Photo: Flickr

hunger in Serbia
The Republic of Serbia, located in the Balkans region of Southeast Europe, has a population of approximately 7 million citizens and ranks 25 out of 117 qualifying countries struggling with hunger, per the Global Hunger Index. Hunger additionally coincides with low food security — a detrimental status that many inhabitants face due to lack of money for food or the absence of other resources for them to use as food. The United States Department of Agriculture defines low food security as the multiple reports of “reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet.” As Serbia’s persistent hunger crisis continues to affect its inhabitants, many will encounter illness and death because of the insufficient amounts of nutrition consumed. Here are five facts about hunger in Serbia.

5 Facts About Hunger in Serbia

  1. Global Hunger Index: Serbia has a Global Hunger Index (GHI) score of 6.5; a value that the country’s indicators of undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality determines. All of these variables factor into caloric deficiencies and poor nutrition statistics throughout the country. On the GHI Severity Scale, a score of 6.5 is considerably low.
  2. Malnourishment: According to Macrotrends — 5.7% of Serbia’s population had gone undernourished from 2016 to 2017. Those that the study accounted for did not meet the dietary energy requirements because of their inadequate food intake.
  3. Children: Children under the age of 10 are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and can suffer from being underweight and thin. According to a cross-sectional study in regard to hunger in Serbia by Cambridge University Press — Serbian school children (ages 6 to 9) attending schools without any health-focused educational programs were “1.57 times more likely to be thin than peers enrolled in schools with such programs.”
  4. Disease: Coronary heart disease and heart inflammation (also known as myocarditis) are the two leading causes of death in Serbia. A study that the Journal of Evolution of Medical and Dental Sciences conducted found a link between malnutrition and cardiac debility — especially in children. Those children experiencing malnourishment are likely to experience alterations to their body compositions as they mature, including a loss of skeletal and heart muscle mass as well as other cardiac abnormalities that electrolyte, mineral or vitamin deficiencies cause. In 2018, coronary heart disease contributed to 22.16% of total deaths in Serbia, while myocarditis contributed to 16.02% of total deaths.
  5. Dietary Assessment Tool: The Network for Capacity Development in Nutrition in Central and Eastern Europe and Balkan countries (NCDNCEE) created a dietary intake assessment tool to identify areas of hunger and challenges of malnutrition within the region. By utilizing pre-existing food composition databases, dietary studies and micronutrient suggestions — the Diet Asses & Plan (DAP) platform can identify any nutritional concerns within the region.

A Need for Strategic Intervention

As the issues of malnutrition and hunger in Serbia continue to affect the populace, the country’s overall health will continue to decline — unless the country devises and implements a premeditated plan of action. Despite the many hunger reduction and alleviation strategies that have emerged to aid in these issues, the Republic of Serbia still has ample room to enhance its citizens’ nutritional health and well-being for a much healthier future.

Isabella Socias
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in SerbiaAgainst a backdrop of poverty, unemployment, privatization and eviction, Serbia is facing a housing crisis. This widespread homelessness in Serbia disproportionately targets minority groups.

Poverty and Unemployment in Serbia

Homelessness in Serbia stems in part from the country’s poverty and unemployment rates. In 2013, a survey by The World Bank found that poverty threatened 24.5% of Serbia’s population. Recent economic recessions have highlighted joblessness as another major problem within the country, with the unemployment rate ranging from a high of 24% in 2012 to a recent low of around 12% in 2019. With many people out of a job and fighting to stay above the poverty line, homelessness looms as a real threat to Serbia’s people.

Serbia’s Housing History: Privatization and Eviction

The problem of homelessness in Serbia has been augmented by recent cuts in public housing. The privatization of housing in Serbia began with The Housing Law of 1992. The law disincentivizes the government from providing adequate public housing. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, there has since been a “virtual disintegration of state responsibility” for housing.

In 2016, another law worsened Serbia’s housing crisis. The Law on Housing and Building Maintenance, among other things, increased evictions. Evictions can catastrophically undermine human rights, especially when they threaten vulnerable communities. Before Serbia’s 2016 law was even enacted, Amnesty International called out its potential to “violate the rights of individuals and families in vulnerable communities at risk from forced eviction.”

This lack of public housing and frequent evictions have increased the threat of homelessness in Serbia. While the exact scope of the country’s situation is difficult to measure, the most recent census in 2011 estimates that around 20,000 people face homelessness in Serbia.

Vulnerable Communities: Refugees and the Roma People

When it comes to homelessness in Serbia, refugees are particularly vulnerable. Of Serbia’s refugee and internally displaced persons population, roughly 22% face poverty, placing these groups at a high risk of homelessness.

Additionally, Serbia lacks adequate space within refugee camps to shelter those coming into the country. Despite the large refugee population, the Serbian government provides sparse accommodations. In 2016, the Serbian government provided only 6,000 beds to asylum seekers, leaving many without shelter.

Another vulnerable group within Serbia is the Roma population. Low levels of education and high rates of poverty leave the Roma people struggling to afford private housing, while discrimination against them puts them at a disproportionate risk of eviction. Evictions of Roma people have become so targeted that the European Roma Rights Centre and Human Rights Watch sounded the alarm when, with little notice, 128 Roma people were evicted from their homes in Novi Beograd within one day.

Who Is Helping the Homeless?

There is good news. The Regional Housing Programme (RHP) is fighting homelessness in Serbia by providing housing for refugees. The organization has worked with over 7,000 housing units and, by 2019, had provided housing to 4,200 refugee families. On June 20, 2020, the organization celebrated World Refugee Day by moving 270 families into the RHP’s newly constructed apartment building in Belgrade. The organization’s work has gotten media attention in the form of a new film. “Here to Stay” describes RHP’s achievements and shares stories from the refugees who have found a home thanks to RHP’s help.

Another organization, Združena Akcija Krov nad Glavom (Joint Action Roof Over Your Head), is helping Serbia’s homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with providing housing accommodations, the organization delivers essential supplies such as food, protective masks and sanitizer to the homeless.

Organizations like these provide hope in Serbia’s fight against homelessness. In the face of the Serbian government’s lack of effort to provide clean and safe public housing to its people, these organizations are making a huge difference for the many people affected by homelessness in Serbia.

Jessica Blatt
Photo: Flickr

WASH in Serbia
Water pollution in Serbia is primarily caused by the inadequate discharge of wastewater. Unequal practices of waste removal disproportionately impact rural and Roma communities, as these groups tend to rely on wells and local waterways that are often exposed to industrial contamination. In fact, 22% of the Roma population does not have access to improved water sources, making them especially susceptible to waterborne diseases. Although there is still much work needed to ensure that everyone in Serbia has access to adequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), the situation is far from stagnant. Here are nine facts about how WASH in Serbia is improving.

9 Facts About WASH in Serbia

  1. The OM Christian church started a non-governmental organization in 2014 to assist vulnerable populations in Serbia and other Mediterranean countries. As part of its religious beliefs, the church has enacted a variety of humanitarian work, including establishing adequate sanitation facilities.
  2. The Serbian government has implemented a national program dedicated to the improvement of WASH. Furthermore, the Republic of Serbia now recognizes WASH as a fundamental human right. Through their national program, the government implemented a variety of initiatives promoting hygiene in schools and health facilities. The government has also implemented long-term initiatives dedicated to the sustainability of water supplies.
  3. The United Nations Developmental Agency (UNDP) implemented the Protocol on Water and Health in 2013, which is currently active in 170 countries, including Serbia. Through this program, the organization aims to establish a variety of sustainable development goals in Serbia by 2030. Specifically, goal 6 of the program aims to provide clean water and improved sanitation facilities for all Serbians.
  4. In 2019, the European Investment Bank (EIB) gave a 35 million Euro loan to the Serbian city of Belgrade to fund improved sanitation and a wastewater treatment plant. The EIB has been supporting Serbia by loaning money for WASH development projects since 2000. This latest donation is expected to improve the living conditions of more than 170,000 people in the region.
  5. The KFW Development Bank is working to assist Serbia in funding a variety of infrastructural projects. Through their Financial Corporation, the bank is providing improved WASH facilities for 20 Serbian towns, which sustain a collective population of more than 1.3 million people. In early 2020, Belgrade constructed a water treatment plant through the KFW Development Bank’s funding.
  6. The European Union’s Water Framework Directive is working to improve water quality and ensure the proportionate distribution of water from the Tisza River, a major tributary of the Danube and one of the primary water sources for Serbia and four other European countries. The organization aims to carry out this project through a three-step initiative. These steps include traditional water resources planning, structured participation and collaborative computer modeling.
  7. USAID has been present in Serbia since 2001. In 2014, the organization donated $20 million to create a new reservoir in Preševo, which helped provide water to residents of this region.
  8. Serbia has been a member of the Open Government Partnership since 2012. The country has committed itself to be more transparent about its environmental information and budget allocations, which will promote accountability for the government to improve its water and sanitation facilities.
  9. Ecumenical Humanitarian, a Christian organization, has been assisting the Roma people, Serbia’s most vulnerable population, since 2007. The NGO has been working to build sustainable housing and sanitation units for this marginalized group.

Although there is still much progress to be made, the initiatives and improvements implemented over the past years demonstrate that there is hope for improved WASH in Serbia. Moving forward, these organizations must continue to make water and sanitation in the nation a priority.

– Kira Lucas
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Serbia
The Republic of Serbia, or simply Serbia, is a landlocked country in southeast Europe. Poverty in Serbia remains a persistent issue. During the 1990s, the region experienced war, internal displacement of populations and economic depression. Global and national reports indicate that despite the increase in coverage of infrastructure, unequal access to housing, adequate sanitation and education persists between rural and urban populations. Here are five facts about poverty in Serbia.

5 Facts About Poverty in Serbia

  1. In Serbia, deprivation of education is the largest contributor to the Multidimensional Poverty Index, a measure that looks at multidimensional poverty at an international level. This is especially true of Serbia’s minority populations, where primary and secondary school attendance is lower than the national average. This education disparity worsens social exclusion and reduces employment opportunities for vulnerable populations. On its path towards E.U. accession, Serbia must comply with the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative, improving its educational system’s inclusion of all social groups, therefore facilitating their entry into the labor market.
  2. Poverty rates in Serbia are four times higher in the southeast than near the capital. The country is unevenly developed, with marked differences between rural and urban areas. This inequality stems from the vulnerability of Serbia’s agricultural regions, which face a combination of seasonal flooding, weakened infrastructure and a crop yield that climate change has lowered.
  3. Serbia faces the highest percentage of citizens living below the national poverty line in the Balkan region. Estimates determine that this percentage has declined from 25.8% in 2015 to 18.9% in 2019, following Serbia’s emergence from economic and political isolation. Adequate conditions for implementing market reforms and sustainable development have only recently emerged.
  4. One-third of Serbians have inadequate health care. Women make up most of these cases at 33%. Unequal access to health care results from citizens’ financial status or proximity to health care facilities. Earlier this year, vulnerable Serbian medical centers received a 4.6 million Euro donation from the E.U. to purchase medical equipment to fight COVID-19. This donation contributed to the Serbian government’s renovation program as well, aiming to modernize the nation’s health care system to improve its efficiency.
  5. With an undernourishment rate of 5.7%, Serbia has the second-highest population living in hunger in Europe. This number has only decreased by 0.3% in the last 5 years. The U.N. is working to end malnutrition in Serbia by 2030 as a part of its Sustainable Development Goals. This means increasing agricultural productivity and improving rural infrastructure to promote sustainable food sources.
While it is important to be aware of the conditions that these five facts about poverty in Serbia present, it is equally as important to consider the projections that some are making in regard to the country’s economy and growth. The containment of COVID-19 is taking a heavy toll on the Serbian economy, restricting growth. The economy is set to enter a recession, driven by lower tourism, transport activity, exports and investment.

The Serbian government introduced a 5.2 billion Euro stimulus program, approved in late March 2020. The program aims to bolster employment and aid small and medium enterprises. If successful, these efforts, along with ongoing reform programs seeking to stabilize the economy, will allow for the creation of more secure jobs in vulnerable areas.

Economic recovery depends on international developments and the rate of change. It is critical to consider the longterm impacts of these projections on poverty in Serbia’s most vulnerable regions.

Sylvie Antal
Photo: Flickr
10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Serbia
The Republic of Serbia gained independence following the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1992. Although birthed from the aftermath of a bloody civil war and a subsequent period of violence and civil unrest, Serbia is a progressive nation with a high quality of life standards. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Serbia.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Serbia

  1. Trends: Life expectancy in Serbia continues to trend upwards. The current average life expectancy is 76.05, a 0.18 percent increase from 2019. U.N. statistical projections anticipate that life expectancy rates will grow to 80.21 by 2050.
  2. Leading Causes of Death: A 2018 report from the WHO identified the leading causes of death in Serbia as coronary heart disease, which accounted for 21.39 percent of deaths. In addition, around 14.92 percent of death are from strokes.
  3. Infant Mortality: Serbia’s infant mortality rate is steadily improving. In 2000, there were approximately 13.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. Today, the metric stands at only 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. Additionally, U.N. data predicts that infant mortality rates will drop even further by 2050 to just over two deaths per 1,000 births.
  4. Health Care: Serbia underserves health care to around 20 percent of Serbian citizens. However, Serbia, in general, has an inclusive and effective health care system. Pregnant women, infants, college students and children 15 or younger all receive free health care. Furthermore, mental health services and treatment of infectious diseases are free for all.
  5. Access to Medical Facilities: The post-World War II Serbian government invested heavily in the territory’s medical schools. Eventually, it hopes to correct its problematic lack of trained medical professionals. As of 2016, there were 3.13 doctors per 1,000 citizens. That same year, Serbia recorded health funding equivalent to 9.1 percent of the national GDP.
  6. Birth Rate: Serbia’s population is shrinking. The estimated fertility rate in 2020 is 1.46 children born per woman. This place Serbia at 211 out of 228 nations. As a result, the population should decline by an estimated 0.47 percent.
  7. Violent Crime: Serbia’s murder rate has significantly declined over the past decade. In 2007, there were 1.9 homicides per 100,000 citizens. By 2017, the number dropped to 1.1. However, Serbia is a strategic corridor in the international drug trafficking trade. This means that multiple organized crime syndicates operate there.
  8. Women’s Health: In general, Serbian women live longer and healthier lives than their male counterparts. Women live on average around five years longer than men. Estimates determine that Serbia’s maternal mortality rate is 12 deaths per 100,000 live births. It places Serbia in the upper half of global maternal mortality figures.
  9. Sexual/Reproductive Health: Serbia is a highly religious nation. In addition, citizens typically hold conservative attitudes towards sex and relationships. Contraceptive prevalence is a comparatively low 58.4 percent. Only 18.4 percent of married or committed women use modern contraceptive methods. The United Nations Population Fund is in the midst of a campaign to ensure universal access to contraception and family planning services.
  10. Ethnic Minorities: Hungarians, Romani, Bosnians and other ethnic minorities comprise 16.7 percent of the Serbian population. Historically, Serbia’s relationship with the rest of the Balkans has been volatile both within and outside national borders. Additionally, this contributed to unequal access to health care, particularly for the Roma population. In concert with UNICEF, the Pediatric Association of Serbia is engaged in improving pediatric care for minorities and children with disabilities.
These 10 facts about life expectancy in Serbia attest to the nation’s rapid recovery from the tragedies of the 1990s and early 2000s. Serbia’s health care system and quality of life standards should improve even further in the coming years.

Dan Zamarelli
Photo: Flickr

Eight Facts About Education in Serbia
Education levels have been improving in the Balkan country of Serbia since the early 2000s and especially since Serbia’s partnership with Switzerland. It is evident that Serbia‘s work with other European countries and its attempt to bridge the gap between the rich and poor are doing wonders for Serbia’s education system. Here are eight facts about education in Serbia that highlight the progress of its education.

8 Facts About Education in Serbia

  1. Serbia is fighting an uphill battle due to the fact that 25 percent of its population lives at the poverty line, with the Roma people making up two percent of the Balkan national population. Laws for the 2018 education system should help temper this issue, which includes the implementation of procedures regarding the handling of discriminatory behavior and insulting reputation that affects honor and dignity. These should help put an end against any form of discrimination. The second most important law for this trend is the Bylaw on additional education, health and social support for children, pupils and adults. This Bylaw made it so that the education system would include less fortunate children in lower standings of society with the right to use of resources and individual assistance.
  2. Serbia has made great progress in increasing the successful outcomes of its education system since the mid-2010s. The fact that the Harmonized Learning Outcomes (averaged over all subjects and grades) have shown a 63 point increase from a meager 458 in 2003 to 2015 reinforces this. This is due to an attempt to bridge the social gap between the poor and wealthy which has also lead to an increased interest in education after high school. This is due mostly to the laws mentioned in point one, which led to increased spending on education.
  3. Other European countries, like Switzerland, have been integral to helping Serbia reform its education since 2012. The Swiss displayed to Serbia how to provide more inclusive education for those less fortunate. Switzerland also provided agents to show the leaders of the Serbian education system how to properly analyze schooling data to better reform the system.
  4. The Red Cross has provided humanitarian aid that has targeted families in need of food, hygiene and social inclusion to allow children the basic opportunity of enjoying and learning in the schools they are in. In contrast, UNICEF has focused on school programs to allocate funds to allow students to be more involved in extracurricular activities.
  5. The Joint Programme on Roma and Marginalized Groups Inclusion is also taking steps to make sure the Roma children are able to catch up within Serbia’s school system. One of these steps is to make education more affordable for those who require a secondary education so that the system includes more of the population. This is important since the jobless rate for the Roma is over 60 percent, which is exacerbated by the fact that over half the Roma people do not get an education.
  6. Serbia can collect much of its education system’s data partly because it has become the 31st member of the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. This organization of 31 member states works and collaborates to improve Europe’s education system to make it more inclusive for everyone. Through the use of technical support, this agency supports Serbia by better organizing data so that the Balkan Nation’s Education Organizer can use it. This, in turn, has allowed for better use of evidence-based information to solve critical issues in Serbia.
  7. Serbia has also addressed its plans to fix the large success gap between the wealthy and poor, with the latter only having an upper secondary education success rate of 45 percent. Although this number may seem low, it is an improvement of 22 percent since 2011. The reason for this is affordability as higher forms of education can be too expensive for most families in Serbia. The Inclusivity Act mentioned above should help change this, which works to bring the wealthy or discriminated these higher levels of education.
  8. In 2018, Serbia implemented a program that included a financial education program to help pave the way for greater minds to lead the country’s economy. This is a law that seeks to help students have a better grasp of the business world, how to better find jobs and create them, as well as how to better create teachers who can impart this knowledge on the student body. It should start sometime in the later part of 2019.

These eight facts about education in Serbia show that while Serbia has issues, the country has greatly improved its education system, and will continue to do so at the apparent rate it has set themselves. So long as Serbia is open to accepting outside help and to work to bridge the gap between the wealthy and the poor, the number of people that will benefit from its system will only grow. These eight facts about education in Serbia will hopefully serve as something Serbia can expand upon in the future.

– Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Serbia

Formerly a part of Yugoslavia, Serbia is a small landlocked country located in southeastern Europe between Macedonia and Hungary. Serbia has an extremely tense history with its neighboring countries as a result of the breaking up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Today, Serbia is quite different. Here are the top ten facts about living conditions in Serbia.

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Serbia

  1. Pollution: Serbia is currently subject to environmental issues in the form of pollution. The capital city of Belgrade is particularly susceptible to air pollution. Water pollution is also an issue throughout Serbia as industrial waste from the cities is known to eventually flow into the Danube. Management of all kinds of waste — domestic, industrial and hazardous — has been poor.
  2. Ethnic diversity: More than 80 percent of the population of Serbia identifies as Serb, with the main minorities being Hungarian and Bosnian Muslims. The Roma people also make up a small minority, along with other people from neighboring countries. Serbians essentially speak the same language as Croats, Bosniaks and Montenegrins, but with slight variations in dialect.
  3. Economy: Serbia’s economy saw huge growth between 2001 and 2008 because of domestic consumerism. However, because of the rapidness of the growth, the economy experienced instability and both internal and external imbalances. The economy has steadily increased since, and as of 2018 is projected to continue in surplus.
  4. Power: Serbia has no nuclear power stations. Instead, they use hydroelectric power and coal as their main energy sources. The largest coal-burning stations are located in Belgrade, and much of the hydroelectric power comes from the Djerdap dam.
  5. Population: With a population of just over seven million, the most heavily populated area of Serbia is the capital city of Belgrade wherein more than one million people live. Despite the large population, the unemployment rate among Serbian youth ages 15–24 is 29.7 percent, which is quite high. As a result, many young Serbians go to other countries to find work.
  6. Trade: Serbia’s main trading partners are Italy and Germany; however, Russia, Switzerland, China and Hungary are also partnered with Serbia. Many countries are not interested in trading with Serbia because of its infrastructure decline. Additionally, Serbia faces problems with corruption that leave potential trading partners skeptical.
  7. Health Care: Healthcare is provided to pregnant women, babies and children up to 15 years of age. Also, students up to the age of 26 are allotted healthcare. All Serbian citizens are granted treatments for diseases and mental illnesses. Yet, one-fifth of the population remains without healthcare.
  8. Family culture: Serbia is a staunchly patriarchal society, as was instilled under the Ottoman rule and can still be seen today. Family loyalty is very important in Serbian culture. Nepotism is a common problem in workspaces and perpetuates the patriarchal motifs.
  9. Leisure: Belgrade and another city, Novi Sad, are the cultural hubs of Serbia, offering extensive nightlife as well as other cultural hotspots. Various cafes, sporting events and galleries are open across the cities to give those living there — especially the youth — plenty to do. The countryside also has a lot to offer with its abundance of places to go if one wanted to experience traditional Serbian life.
  10. Housing: Housing in Serbia has been a problem since the period of civil unrest and throughout the 1990s; hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless. Although Western nations sent aid, only part of the problem was alleviated. Currently, housing is particularly a problem for young people in urban areas.

Though Serbia is a beautiful country and its tourism rates have risen in recent years, the country still harbors a lot of tension because of its past conflicts. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Serbia showcase that while the country has made great strides and developments, there is still room for improvement.

Emily Cormier
Photo: Flickr