Social Welfare Expenditures
The municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja are classified in the group of underdeveloped areas and are characterized, among other things, by a high unemployment rate and poverty. Bearing this in mind, the Coordination Body came up with a number of programs aimed at improving the quality of life for the citizens of the three municipalities. Our goal is to primarily assist the children and provide them more opportunities for continuous and quality education. Through these programs, we try to provide support to primary and secondary school students, as well as to university students from the three municipalities.
The Coordination Body’s Office of the Government of the Republic of Serbia for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja implements all programs on the basis of the Program for distribution and usage of funds for the programs for protection and improvement of the social and minority rights and special features in the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja. At the beginning of every calendar year, the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopts this program by a conclusion.
We provide symbolic gifts to elementary school students every September 1. We give school bags as gifts to all first graders in Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, and in them, school supplies they need to write the first letters and numbers, such as notebooks, pencil cases, erasers, compasses, rulers, pencils and crayons. So far, we have cheered up five generations of first-graders, as well as their parents, or over 5, 500 children. The Coordination Body’s Office has, so far, allocated 15,245,199.72 dinars for this activity.
The Coordination Body’s Office has been awarding scholarships amounting to 6,000 dinars per month to secondary school students from Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja since 2009. The scholarships are paid throughout the school year, from September to June. Some of the most important criteria for scholarships are as follows: income of the parents or guardians, the success of students at school, as well as whether the student has both parents. 1,205 scholarships have been awarded since 2009, while the Coordination Body’s Office allocated a total of 45,754,082.00 dinars for this program. The commission for the selection of scholarship beneficiaries is composed of representatives of the Coordination Body’s Office and the three municipalities.
For the past three years, the Coordination Body’s Office has been intensively conceiving projects in the field of higher education. The Law and Economics Departments of the University of Nis were opened in Medvedja in 2009. We provided for the Albanian students the translation from Serbian into Albanian of the majority of textbooks for the first three years of studying. Every year, we allocate one-time scholarships, in the amount of 7, 000 dinars, to the students that fulfill the condition for enrollment in the next academic year.
The Faculty of Economics from Subotica, which belongs to the University of Novi Sad, opened its department in Bujanovac in 2011. We provided a translation of textbooks into Albanian for students of this department, for those subjects for which, according to the faculty’s curriculum, instruction in Albanian is provided. Owing to the support of the PBILD project, we equipped a computer lab at the faculty’s department, while the Coordination Body’s Office procured the furniture for the smooth running of the institution.
We put a particular emphasis on the program for awarding scholarships to young people from Presevo and Bujanovac to study at the University of Novi Sad. When we launched the project three years ago, there were few of those who believed that there would be a sufficient number of interested persons, especially bearing in mind that studying in Novi Sad is done in the Serbian language. So far, 44 young people from Presevo and Bujanovac have enrolled in the University of Novi Sad, mostly those from the Serbian and Albanian communities. We are particularly pleased this year because the first member of the Roma community received a scholarship to study in Novi Sad. Scholarship holders receive a monthly remuneration in the amount of 45,000 dinars for the payment of tuition fees in case of self-funded students, purchase of books and living expenses in Novi Sad. The procedure of selecting scholars is the following: Every March, an open competition for scholarships is announced for as many students as the Coordination Body’s Office has funds in its budget. We, therefore, had 11 scholarship holders in the first year, 21 in the second one and 12 in the third one. The commission for the selection of scholarship holders consists of representatives of the Coordination Body’s Office for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja. Scholarships are received only by the selected candidates who pass the entrance exam, while those who fail to fulfill the condition for enrollment in the next year of studying lose their right to receiving scholarship. At the end of 2013, 32 scholarship holders studied and lived in Novi Sad. We maintain regular contacts with all scholarship holders, while they underscore a great pleasure with being given a chance.
In addition to the assistance provided for education, the Coordination Body’s Office for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja provides funding for the local self-governments by awarding one-time assistance to vulnerable families. So far, we have provided one-time assistance for the purchase of fuel oil to the municipalities and to the special hospital "Bujanovac Spa".
The Coordination Body’s Office, through social welfare programs, provides to the residents of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja easier living conditions in the areas of education, culture, health and social care.