On the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia reminds that close to 400,000 children are at risk of poverty. We fear that the high risk of poverty is also increased by the costs of education that should be free and accessible to all children, without exception.
Unfortunately, Serbia is a country with the highly uneven distribution of income where the largest number of families has an income of about 30,000 dinars. Because of this, families with children attending school or studying are at a higher risk of poverty are less likely to meet even the most basic needs.
The disproportionately large portion of in the cost of education is the price of a set of textbooks that ranges from 15,000 to almost 20,000 dinars for a number of elementary school grades, from the fifth to the eighth grade. Children, especially in their younger age, literally fold under the burden of school bags, while parents struggle to find a way to cover all expenses related to the education of children, including going to excursions, extracurricular activities, snacks, clothing and footwear. The current situation with the costs of education is becoming increasingly difficult for parents in Serbia and directly affects the quality of life of families and children.
Taking into account the total cost of textbooks during a child’s education, it may be time to consider new, innovative solutions that will reduce financial pressure on parents, and make pupils’ bags lighter. Buying a device such as a tablet with access to teaching content for each pupil can be a sustainable solution which will provide genuinely free education to all children, with increased digital literacy and will prepare children for the future that has already come.
Therefore, we urge the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the competent Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development to adopt measures that will eliminate the costs of free education, to consider innovative technological solutions that will make education free and accessible to children and prepare children for a society with rapid changes in technology.