Ana Kosovic, professor of the mathematics and mentor at the Secondary Vocation School Ivan Uskokovic - It is the best when prejudices are defeated in action

Satisfied students and grateful parents are a result that Ana Kosovic should be proud of. She is a professor of mathematics and a mentor at the Secondary Vocation School Ivan Uskokovic within the project Increasing access and participation of Roma students in secondary education and transition to the labor market funded by the European Union and implemented through the Roma Education Fund and NGO Young Roma as a national partner. Two years ago, she became one of the favorite faces of all Roma students. With her way of explaining, even math is no longer a bugbear, and the welcome smile that greets them guarantees a solution to every problem. Not only does it help them master the material, communicate with teachers, but also advises them on how to deal with the world outside of school. You will often meet her surrounded by students and on the street because it is not difficult for Ana to come to the rescue whenever she needs to because she believes that Roma students must be a mentor to friends. Our intern Melisa also has only words of praise for her. And why she is so unique and loved, read in the lines that follow.


















How long have you been mentoring, how many children are involved and how old are they?

KOSOVIC: I became the mentor of the Roma population two years ago. During my mentorship, I had a total of eight students. They are all ages 14 to 18 years old.

How is your job different from the job of a teacher, professor?

KOSOVIC: Being supportive of students is actually the job of every teacher. The only difference, in this case, is that the support is more intensive and the attention, apart from learning, must be focused on the social aspect.

Describe to us how one working day of a mentor and your work with students goes.

KOSOVIC: Usually my working days, except for the workshops that I do with students individually, start with entering school. I am available to students whenever they need it, so it often takes place except in my office, in the hallways or even when meeting in the city. I try to get them to peer education and so everyone gets involved in the learning process, but also helping each other.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

KOSOVIC: The biggest challenge is to get them on the right track. In the beginning, there is only regular attendance at classes, while later my task is to present to them how the outside world works outside the school and lead them to responsible behavior.

What are the prejudices that exist from students of the majority population to Roma students?

KOSOVIC: I think that the biggest prejudice is that they cannot be good students, which has changed in our country since we have an excellent student Melisa Berisa. She showed her generation, but also others, that it was just a prejudice. It is best when prejudices are defeated in action.

How do Roma students react to the news that they will get a mentor?

KOSOVIC: They are very satisfied and they do not hide it. But their parents are also immensely grateful for this opportunity.

Why is a mentor an important link in the education chain?

KOSOVIC: The support that mentors provide to students is important primarily for their more comfortable education and better cooperation with teachers. When they are introduced to the education system in a nice way, first of all, to be aware that they are doing it for their own sake, learning support would be significantly reduced. And I think they need someone from the system when they consider it a friend.

What are the difficulties that Roma students face in the education process and how do mentors help solve these problems?

KOSOVIC: In the beginning, it’s a presentation of school rules, regular class attendance, and learning. Mentors give them guidelines on how to approach which subject, how to get to the material, and constantly monitor them in learning, but also in governing. We are often more difficult than their parents and class elders. If they have any problem, we are here to solve it together with them.

What needs to be done to make Roma children better fit and encourage them to achieve better results?

KOSOVIC: I think that the help of mentoring should be introduced in earlier grades in order to have a better chance of reaching higher education because they can and deserve it. I think that with a little effort, big steps can be made with them in early childhood.

When it comes to teaching, do Roma children have a strong language barrier? Do you think that affects success? Are there any indications to consider the introduction of the Romani language.

KOSOVIC: I do not think that the language barrier is very pronounced, I have no knowledge about the introduction of the Romani language, but I think that it should be done.

Interview conducted by: Milena Cavic, journalist, associate of the NGO Young Roma

Translation: Milena Cavic, Milos Knezevic

The views expressed in this text can in no way be considered the views of the NGO Young Roma, the Roma Education Fund and the European Union


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