Learning Centers Network
The Learning Centers Network
The LCN mission
Balkan Sunflowers Kosova’s Learning Centers Network (LCN) supports children’s success in school, their family and their community through a well-integrated education and development program in a caring, safe environment.
Our 5 learning centers reach approximately 400 children every day in 4 municipalities.
Our Story in Brief
The LCN began in 2008 with three centers in Fushe Kosova, Gracanica and Plemetina. In 2009 Shtime Learning Center opened and in 2013 the LCN added a second center in Plemetina. Programs are offered in both Albanian and Serbian languages. In addition to preschool, curriculum support, literacy and science programs, each center has an education mediator who works with schools and families to decrease dropouts and increase enrollment. Thanks in large part to our education mediators, 93% of eligible children in the areas where we work enroll in first grade.
In early 2015, Balkan Sunflowers Kosova initiated the PACE program in the LCN which offers Planned Activities for Cohesive Education (PACE). This new approach was designed alongside the national curriculum to give children the opportunity to improve their knowledge of the core competencies necessary to succeed in school.
In addition to providing academic support, our learning centers are valuable community hubs. Youth volunteer to be tutors for younger children and in return receive support for their efforts to succeed in secondary school and university. Many young people who were once tutors in our centers have gone on to become leaders in their communities.
Balkan Sunflowers Kosova (BSFK) works with donors and other NGOs to lobby government at the central and local levels to make a commitment to Kosovo’s learning centers and education mediators. This multi-faceted approach will increase the longevity of the centers so that hundreds of children can continue to benefit from these important learning programs.
Our Child Centered Programs Include:
School Preparatory Program (Ages 5 - 6)
During the year prior to beginning primary school, or preschool if already available in their communities, children take part in our pre-primary programs. For the time being, BSFK implements preparatory program only in Fushe Kosova. In other locations, BSFK advocate to include children in state preschool programs. Using arts, music, and play we focus on developing the social skills necessary for children to adapt to primary school. Language skills will be enhanced through learning songs, using that language with teachers in active and creative ways, alphabet exercises and games, play, etc. World-wide studies demonstrate that preschool and kindergarten programs significantly improve school success. For socially disadvantaged children, the potential benefit is profound.
Planned Activities for Cohesive Education Program (Grade 1 - 6)
In 2015, Balkan Sunflowers Kosova initiated the PACE program in learning centers. This new approach was designed alongside the national curriculum for children to improve their facility with the core competencies necessary to succeed in school and life. This incorporates science and literacy activities and technology-based learning from our Reading for Discovery and Learning Through Experiments project. While children will still get assistance to check their homework, real understanding and competency will be emphasized, as we work to ensure children learn – not just pass.
Homework Help (Grade 7 - 9)
Older students are provided with a quiet, stable space to work on their homework assignments and can ask for assistance from the tutors or facilitators if needed. Many of the children we serve do not have access to quiet study space which can impede their success in school. Special importance is placed on studying quietly with the flexibility of peer to peer learning and sharing.
The summer program includes one to two weeks of staff training and five weeks of children’s activities, programs are divided into fun theme weeks. The programs keep children mentally active during the summer, stimulate interest in education, and demonstrate practically the relation of education to our everyday reality. During this time, staff are also actively engaging with parents to make sure children are enrolled in school.
Our peer tutors are mostly secondary school students. They provide extra and personal assistance to all the children’s and women’s literacy activities. In addition to a monthly stipend, tutors receive school books, in-service training, tutoring for their lessons, and great experience for their CV. Tutors develop a strong sense of team, belonging and self-esteem through their mentoring, becoming active and valued members of their community.
Each Learning Centre is responsible for developing and maintaining regular contact with five networks:
- Parents are encouraged to visit the centers and we hold regular meetings and visit their homes;
- The primary school where the children attend or will attend, developing positive relationships with the director and teachers and discussing with teachers the progress of children in the school who are attending the Learning Center programs;
- Education officers in their municipality, as well as other relevant governmental institutions including the Centers for Social Work;
- Other BSF Learning Centers. The project facilitates meetings and exchange visits between the Learning Centers, monthly coordination meetings, and team building activities.
- Other local NGOs working within the particular communities and in the education sector.
School Mediation Program
Balkan Sunflowers established its School Mediation Program in 2010 under the pilot project "School Mediators" funded by the OSCE and initiated by Council of Europe. The project aims at increasing access to education for children from disadvantaged communities, in particular Kosovo Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian, by encouraging enrolment and preventing children dropping out of school.
The program has supported the work of 12 school mediators in ten municipalities in Kosovo - Fushë Kosova/Kosovo Polje, Shtime/Štimlje, Obiliq/Obilić, Gračanica/Graçanicë, Podujevë/Podujevo, Gjakovë/Djakovica, Pejë/Peć, Prizren, Dubravë/Dubrava, and Lipjan/Lipljan. Balkan Sunflowers school mediators work in the 32 schools that comprise the majority of children from Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities in the targeted municipalities.
School mediators work in 3 locations and cover 12 schools.
Mediators have been trained by education experts and since they belong to the communities where they work, they have easier access to families than any other social worker. Mediators’ main tasks are: ensuring children enrolment in school, preventing interruption of their school attendance, individuating problems pupils may face regarding their schooling and put in place remedy actions, and mediating among families, schools and municipal administrations. Approximately 10,000 people benefit from this program.
In cooperation with the OSCE, Balkan Sunflowers has published a Kosovo School Mediation Training Manual, which aims at normalizing the figure of the school mediator in the context of Kosovo. Given the successful results of the program, Balkan Sunflowers is seeking for its institutionalization along with various stakeholders including Council of Europe.
The Learning Centers description
Fushe Kosova Learning Center
Fushe Kosova Learning Center (FKLC) is the biggest of Balkan Sunflowers Kosova’s learning centers. It has programs both in Serbian and Albanian. Albanian and Serbian speaking facilitators and tutors offer preschool, homework help and language club to approximately 220 children every day. When not in the classroom, children have the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities near the center.
Gracanica Learning Center
Gracanica Learning Center (GLC) works in Serbian language. It is located in a Roma neighborhood at the end of Gracanica village. The center provides preschool and homework help for approximately 40 children up to 8th grade. A coordinator, a cook, facilitators and tutors all work together to keep GLC operating every day. Next to GLC is a playground and sports center open for use by the children of the center.
Plemetina Buildings Learning Center
Plemetina Buildings Learning Center (PBLC) is located on the ground floor of the Plemetina Social Housing Buildings for internally displaced people. The center opened in 2013 bringing the Learning Centers Network to a total of five centers. Unemployment here is dauntingly high at over 90% so it is important that the approximately 45 children attending the center understand the value of education and how it can contribute to future success. The center is very active with dedicated staff offering a preschool program, homework help and parenting classes daily.
Plemetina Learning Center
Plemetina Learning Center (PLC) operates in Serbian language. It started its work in 2002 and is the oldest of the learning centers with around 50 children attending the center everyday. They are mostly Roma, but some Ashkali and Serbian children attend the center too. A coordinator, a cook, a caretaker, a mediator, facilitators and tutors all contribute to providing preschool, homework club and Serbian language club for the children. The facilitators and tutors pick up the children before the classes and accompany them home later.
Shtime Learning Center
Shtime Learning Center (SHLC) has been providing extra educational support to children from the Shtime area for 6 years. SHLC has recently been invited to continue its activities with children inside the Emin Duraku Lower Primary School. In September 2014 the municipality began piloting full-day schooling there as an alternative to the half-day shifts ongoing in the rest of the country. Children are selected by their teachers to attend extra support classes to reinforce what they are learning in school, while building self-confidence in their own abilities and encouraging more school participation.
Below you have some information about the Learning centers and people you will meet. We will update you before the meeting about people from institutions (depending on their availability).
LOCATIONS AND NUMBER OF CHILDREEN:
- Fushe Kosova Learning Center (FKLC)
- Address: Street Meshari NN, 12000, Fushe Kosovë Municipality
- We use three buildings. One of them is community center (old metal container), and two other building are private housse (we pay rent).
- Approximately 350 children per day
- 1 center coordinator, 3 Learning facilitators, 30 tutors, 1 cook, 1 cleaner, 1 person dealing with maintenance/heating
- Shtime Learning Center (SHLC)
- Located in primary school “Emin Duraku” In Shtime
- Activities are implemented within the school premises
- Approximately 50 children per day
- 1 center coordinator, 2 Learning facilitators, 7 tutors,
- Plemetina Building Learning Center (PBLC)
- Address: Street Kosova B, Plemetinë/Plemetina, Obiliq Municipality
- Municipality provided to us free space in the building
- Approximately 65 children per day
- 1 center coordinator, 2 Learning facilitators, 4 tutors, part time cleaner, part time cook
- Gracanica Learning Center (GLC)
- Adress: Romska street, Gracanica
- Building is provided by municipality for free
- Approximately 65 children per day
- 1 center coordinator, 2 Learning facilitators, 5 tutors, part time cleaner, part time cook
- Plemetin Learning Center (PLC)
- Address: Street Knjaz Mihajlo, Plemetina, Obilic Municipality
- We pay private house (rented)
- Approximately 70 children per day
- 1 center coordinator, 2 Learning facilitators, 6 tutors, part time cleaner, part time cook
Project is supported by Jugend Eine Welt
Promoting, raising awareness and protecting the rights of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities