Biljana Kosorić – Sokolac: “Investment in pre-school education is the best investment in the future”

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Hana:

Biljana Kosorić has been the Director of the Public Institution for Pre-school Education in Sokolac since 2003. Prior to that, she worked as a professor of pedagogy and psychology in the Sokolac Secondary School. This kindergarten is the only institution of this kind in the Stolac Municipality. They have 16 employees and more than 100 children.

Biljana Kosorić:

In the previous work year, i.e. in the still ongoing working year, we enrolled 105 children. There are 16 employees in this institution, who strive to make sure that the stay of our kids here is pleasant and enjoyable. We have eight kindergarten teachers, one pedagogist, two cleaning ladies, two cooks, an administrative clark, a bookkeeping clerk and the Director, which is me. Believe me, we all work so hard and to so much to ensure best possible conditions for our kids.

The founder of the institution is the municipality, and the institution is fully reliant on it. The budget provides the key funding – employee salaries, contributions and basic work materials.

Since the building was constructed and became operational in 1981, and it is already 36 yearsold, all this time the facility required maintenance. The facility has 1,250 m2 of surface area, the surface area we use is quite large.

Quite a lot has been achieved here through projects, through project implementation, so that all this time I was writing, trying, looking for funds, in any way imaginable, to ensure that this institutions is maintained. A lot has been done, the roof has been replaced, the joinery, plumbing, the entire interior was redesigned, and new furniture purchases. A lot has been done, but still more work remains. Recently, two machines have been procured through projects – one, industrial size, for washing dishes, the other, for drying clothes. Two stoves have also been procured, an industrial-size stove and a modern convection stove, for roasting, with six ovens.

You yourself write projects and work on them?

So far, mostly I was doing it myself, but also with the help of the municipality. I had some success on my own, and now, the cooperation with the municipality is quite good. The kindergarten worked for many years with around 40 children, they had two or three groups. However, things started changing with the passage of time, whether due to the quality of our work, whether in parents’ outlook – they began to understand the significance of children’s stay in our pre-school institution, so the interest to enrol children at this institution has grown.

So we began expanding our activities, so, first, two years ago we established another group and we started working with four educational groups. And now, we managed to furnish another room, with the assistance of the municipality and the Mayor himself, and from September we are going to have another room for work. This will be our fifthe educational group, so we have expanded our activities and now we have capacity for 130 children.

In all our documents, from the annual work program on, the strategic goal is always to expand the enrollment of children. And in all our other programs, events, trips outside the institution, because our program is not implemented only in the institution, but in cooperation with all institutions in our municipality, we managed to reach that goal. So I can say now – it is not that the birth rate went up, but the rate of enrollment of children in pre-school education did.

This makes me so happy, because my work here made me understand what it means for the children to spend time in a kindergarten and how this period of early learning, early growth and development is really irreplaceable later in life. And, once this period in any person’s life has been skipped, you cannot make up for it afterwards.

„This is something you only notice much later – when children leave here, when they start school, it is only then that parents realize how much it meant and how significant was their stay in our institution.

Compared to other children, who did not spend time in kindergarten, they can see how much more advanced these children are – how much more communicative, open, socialized, how much more they actually know, because here we work with children. This is an educational institution that implements the curriculum prescribed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. What is of interest here is that we are talking about learning through play. The only method that is permitted in the kindergarten is learning through play, but such games must be well-conceived and properly adapted to ensure that kids can both enjoy and learn in this fashion.

Attention has also been paid to the need that the kindergarten remains current with modern pre-school methods.

The Institution recently received a visit of Professor Rajko Rajović, who has cooperation with the language center operating in our municipality. We have also cooperated with the language center for more than 10 or 15 years, we teach English in the Institution, and since the last working year we have also introduced German. The Language Center fully implements the NTC learning system, and our kindergarten teachers took the first part of the NTC learning system training, and this is l ikely to continue and we will strive to implement the NTC learning system as well.

Our kindergarten also organizes different activities.

For the second year in a row, we are taking our children to the Tara River. There is a Children’s Resort „Mitrovac“ on the Tara River, and last year, for the first time we reeived an offer from them we immediately offered it to the parents, they agreed and we took the children there.

This year we took 45 children. This is really a great responsibility, to put so many children into a bus and leave is not in the least simple. Fortunately, everything went well. What matters most – children liked it, children loved it. When we get there, I am always delighted with the people of that organization, from the welcome itself, the accommodations adapted for children, to the programs and activities. They employ sports recreation specialists and animators, who work with the children the whole day. And the essence of things is to keep the children outdoors as long as possible, ad to make sure that the time they spend outdoors is interesting.

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