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30. October 2018.

Belgrade – The international conference "Serbian as a Foreign Language in Theory and Practice" brought together about 80 participants from 14 countries, who, on that occasion, read their papers. The Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, Andrea Orizio, said that the conference provided a cross section of the reform of teaching and learning Serbian as a second language and the opportunity to mark the adoption of a new program for the subject.

"This cooperation is a great example of the main principles by which the OSCE Mission to Serbia’s work is guided, and that is that it encourages and promotes local accountability   through a partnership with local stakeholders,” said Ambassador Orizio at the opening ceremony held at the Rectory of the University of Belgrade.  

According to him, the Mission attached equal importance to the education of national minorities in their native languages ​​and to the learning of the Serbian language, because "it is of great importance for the integration of national minorities into society and their future employment in Serbia."

"We supported, for instance, the certified training of 200 teachers in terms of the new standards in schools where the language of instruction is Albanian and Hungarian, while last weekend we helped with the training of 50 teachers in Novi Sad," Ambassador Orizio said.  

The Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia also said that he supported the running of Albanian language courses for teachers of Serbian as a non-mother tongue in the southern part of central Serbia, and also pointed out that the OSCE Commissioner on National Minorities participated in the development of the Serbian-Albanian dictionary for students, which would be turned into an application. Ambassador Orizio underscored that the OSCE Mission to Serbia had been supporting the development of a study in the territory of the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja since 2014, which, he said was a major step in the development of standards for Serbian as a second language.

Anamarija Vicek, State Secretary of the Ministry of Education, said that nothing had been happening in the field of teaching and learning Serbian as a second language at the state level for years, but that the OSCE recognized the importance of the issue and helped in that regard.

State Secretary Vicek pointed out that the changes related to migration brought challenges to the Ministry of Education in the sense that migrant children should be included in regular education and noted that the work on the program of teaching and learning Serbian as a foreign language was in progress. 

"Serbia is recognized as unique in Europe because it is only here that minority education is based on education in the mother tongue, and at the same time a great emphasis is put on mastering the language of the country," State Secretary Vicek said.  

She also stated that there were three programs for learning the Serbian language in Serbia – the one for the Serbian language for children who are native speakers of Serbian, the one for Serbian as a second language and the one for Serbian as a foreign language, concluding that there was a significant professional and political support for learning Serbian as a non-mother tongue.  

Professor Petar Marin, Vice-Rector of the University of Belgrade, said that the conference was an important meeting, not only for Serbia and the Serbian people, but also for the entire region, "because the Serbian language is an important pillar of identity that must be preserved."

The event was organized by the Center for Serbian as a Foreign Language of the Faculty of Philology, with the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia.

Source: “Tanjug” news agency and Coordination Body