EU Recovery Programme helps improve schooling for children with disabilities in Doboj

The school bell rang this morning for the 1,200 pupils attending the Primary School ‘Vuk Stefanović Karadžić’ in Doboj. The rehabilitation of the school building which suffered heavy damages in the May floods was financed through the EU Floods Recovery Programme in the amount of 666.000 KM.

“We are now ready to wish a warm welcome to our pupils with around 70% of the rehabilitation works having been finalised,” says School Director Milan Gojković. “This is a 45-year old building which was in desperate need of a thorough rehabilitation even before the floods. The funds provided by the EU enabled us to renovate the building properly and thoroughly“, director Gojković continues.

Thanks to EU funding, the school’s heating system has been restored, all water and electrical installations have been replaced and the walls refurbished. The school also got a new facade. “The works still continue on the flooring which requires the prevailing moisture levels to decrease, and we are also refurbishing the school’s sports hall,” says Siniša Ubiparipović, Head of UNDP Doboj.

Among the public buildings rehabilitated through the EU Floods Recovery Programme, this school serves a very special purpose. “This is the only primary school in the Doboj region which provides schooling for children with disabilities. This year we will welcome 30 new pupils with disabilities,” added Director Gojković.

The school places high importance on the quality of education for its pupils with special needs, and the teaching staff closely cooperates with the Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities. Association member Ana Mitrović, whose daughter Kristina attended the school, is full of praise: “What I appreciated the most throughout Kristina’s education is the school’s constant strive to nurture an inclusive approach, which helped in overcoming differences among children.“

The EU-funded rehabilitation works will also ensure that the school facilities serve the children’s special needs better. “For instance, to ease the movement of children in wheelchair, some staircases have been replaced with driveways and doors have been widened. Additional toilet with easy access has been installed, too,” concludes Director Gojković. The alterations will also facilitate the access of children to gym classes.

Andy McGuffie, Spokesperson of the EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative, underlined that the works undertaken at this school are a good illustration of the main purposes of the EU’s recovery assistance – to “build better” to ensure the sustainability and resilience of the rehabilitated facilities, and to focus on the most vulnerable and marginalised groups. “We are happy to have been able to accommodate the request for post-floods rehabilitation and interior alterations at this school, which will contribute overall to improving the conditions and quality of schooling for children with disabilities.”

EU Floods Recovery Programme was launched to restore normal living conditions in local communities and ensure that the aid reaches the most vulnerable ones in the aftermath of floods in May. Funds will be used to restore public services and infrastructure, reconstruct housing units for the most vulnerable people, and for social and economic recovery of local communities. The value of the overall programme was 43.52 million, of which 42.24 million were provided by the European Union. The programme is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).