From education to employment

British funding helping a million children in Western Balkans to code

One million children in the Western Balkans could become the computer experts of the future thanks to funding from the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom is providing £10m to a project to improve education standards across the region under the British Council’s 21st Century Schools programme. Currently 150,000 children have benefitted from the programme, which is aiming to reach one million children.

The programme uses the funding to teach the children the essential skills, including critical thinking, problem solving and coding, necessary to succeed in the 21st century and the digital economy.  This will create greater job opportunities for young people in the future which will help support stability and prosperity across the Western Balkans.

Clare Sears, Country Director British Council Serbia and Deputy Director Wider Europe, said:

“We are delighted to have worked in close partnership with ministries of Education across the Western Balkans, supporting them in improving their education systems and giving young people the skills they need for the future.

“I am proud to have witnessed how the programme is inspiring school leaders, teachers, parents and children and enabling teachers to see potential in children who previously been low achievers.”

The Minister for Europe, Christopher Pincher, yesterday (21 Jan) joined Education Ministers and representatives from Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia to mark the success of the programme and discuss the importance of digital skills and education in the 21st century.

During the meeting, Minister Pincher underlined the United Kingdom’s dedication to improving digital skills and education in the Western Balkans to prepare children for the next generation of digital challenges.

The Minister for Europe and Americas Christopher Pincher said:

“Our young people represent our future: our respective countries’ success will depend in large part on their talents, their skills and their ambitions. The world in which they are growing up is changing. They are already incredibly tech savvy. We need to tap into their talent, and develop it further.

“That is why the United Kingdom is a proud supporter of the 21st Century Schools programme. It will help future generations in the Western Balkans to become the dynamic entrepreneurs of tomorrow and generate prosperity for their countries today – and with it, stability for the region.”

The project is part of the United Kingdom’s commitment to the Western Balkans, to improve prosperity and stability in the region, and will ensure the next generation of pupils acquire the skills needed to meet the digital challenges of the future.

The roundtable took place in the margins of the Education World Forum in London.

21st Century Schools programme is inspired by the understanding that the education should be at the forefront of economic growth in the Western Balkans. Future labour market will assume new jobs that will require new set of skills in employees, such as analytical thinking and innovation, critical thinking and complex problem-solving.

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