Secondary school enrollment in Serbia

Client:

Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia

Duration:

2002. - present

Category:

Secondary school enrollment

After the democratic changes in Serbia and the leadership changes in the Ministry of Education, one of the first targets that were set was introduction of order and reduction of corruption in the secondary school enrollment in Serbia. The concept of enrollment up-to-then was based on local entry tests held in secondary schools with completely uneven tests. Principals in secondary schools had the discreet right to enroll students, which often led to corruption. In addition to all this, if a pupil accidently enrolled a secondary school where he/she initially submitted documents for enrollment, he had to enroll some of the schools with vacancies; which were according to the rule worse schools, though perhaps he/she could according to his/her achievements enroll much better schools.

By a combination of circumstances at the beginning of 2002 we found ourselves in a position to influence the development of this idea, still not as a company, but a group of young people who were eager to change the world around them. We developed a concept in our minds that we worked out in the next few meetings and finally our concept got an official green light, so we were caught in maelstrom of events that we still remember a decade later.

The new concept envisaged inventory and creation of database of all eight graders in the Republic of Serbia, as well as those who wish to enroll a secondary school in Serbia. The database should contain all the pieces of information that influence the ranking of the students – in other words, all the marks, awards and every point. This concept envisaged a new, common and unique entry test in the whole Serbia. According to the concept a pupil can, from their school or their home, express their desires for schools, in order of priority that they wish to enroll. Finally, the concept is envisaged in the way that the software on the basis of overall pupil’s achievements and his/her desires, enrolls the pupil according to his/her first wish for which he/she has enough points. Revolutionary and advanced concept even for some European countries today, let alone for Serbia in 2002. But thanks to the courage of the Minister of Education of that time, things started to happen.

Our part of the job was considerable – in addition to the design concept, we were responsible for

Development and distribution of software for collecting data on pupils

Coordination and communication with more than 30 coordinators and IT officers in all parts of Serbia

Data centralization at each stage of collecting data on pupils, as well as the creation of the official reports on the basis of which the data control in schools is performed.

Creation and administration of the official website of the Ministry dedicated do the enrollment

Creation and administration of the technical website of the Ministry dedicated to communication with technical coordinators or persons in charge in the Ministry

Creation of the software for distribution of the pupils, that is their enrollment in the first profile-school for which they have enough points

Creation of a special website with statistics for the Ministry

Two months after the beginning of this job the first version of the software for data acquisition was distributed. Despite the numerous problems that appeared at the start of this project, all the data streamed to us.

Three months after the first version of the application the great day for us dawned – the official results for the distribution of the pupils were announced, that enrolled the first generation of the pupils in a new concept of enrollment, but which also developed awareness of the success of joint cooperation and a desire to formalize the cooperation, and new challenges offered by a private company. That year, Time magazine declared the project of the reform of secondary school enrollment to be the best reform project for the year 2002.

Every successive enrollment was a new challenge. We have never accepted the fact that we have a system that functions and therefore should not be altered, but every year we tried to additionally improve the system. Front men of the Ministry have changed throughout the years, but the awareness of the importance of this process remained, and the superiority of the existing procedure. In cooperation with the Ministry, practically every year novelties were introduced; either through improvement of the existing procedures or through expanding the scope of data that are collected or through compliance with other legislation (personal data protection).

Since 2012 the concept has been changed with a new technical site where primary and secondary schools directly access and download the required data, but also receive a direct access to their data in the central database.