In the period September-November 2023, the ASTRA project team organized three two-day training sessions for education professionals (Belgrade, Novi Sad, and Niš), including teachers, support staff, and representatives from the Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Violence, Abuse, and Neglect Protection Teams. The training sessions were conducted in accordance with the accredited program of the Institute for the Advancement of Education.
The training covered selected subjects, including the legal framework and specific aspects of human trafficking; the complex social concept of human trafficking as a form of organized crime; common myths and prejudices surrounding human trafficking and its victims; ways of recruiting victims and internet safety; a positive aspect of the Internet for the prevention of human trafficking; the role of schools in human trafficking prevention; the protection and reintegration of minor victims; the National Referral Mechanism; and the work of relevant institutions in addressing potential trafficking cases. The training also included indicators for recognizing victims of human trafficking within the school population. During the final session, participants were divided into small groups and worked on developing action plans for human trafficking prevention in their schools.
You can find the Training Agenda here
- The first training was held in Belgrade on October 11th and 12th, bringing together 13 participants from the Pharmaceutical-Physiotherapy School, the Geodetic-Technical School, the Tourism School, the School of Beauty Care (located within the city of Belgrade), and the Agricultural-Veterinary School with a student dormitory (located in Svilajnac). Additionally, representatives from elementary schools in Belgrade, Pančevo, Vranje, and Šajkaš also attended.
- The second training took place in Novi Sad on October 30 and 31, gathering 29 participants from Novi Sad, Karlovac, Subotica, Sombor, Budisava, Zrenjanin, Petrovaradin, Čoka, Mladenovac. The participants work with the school population of children in primary schools, secondary vocational schools, and gymnasiums.
- The third training took place on November 21st and 22nd, 2023, in Niš, with 18 participants from Niš, Kosjerić, Vrtogoš, Leskovac, Zaječar, Prokuplje, Bujanovac, Kuršumlija, Vranje, and Pirot. The participants work as professionals in primary schools, secondary vocational schools, and gymnasiums.
Participants in all three training sessions consistently demonstrated significant interest in the topic, sharing examples from their work and experiences and seeking advice for situations they encountered in practice. Moreover, they actively participated in the interactive part of the lectures and in developing action plans. Additionally, they sought additional literature for themselves and their colleagues.
Session number 2, “Human trafficking chain,” invoked the biggest discussion during all three training sessions. Namely trainers talked about the phenomenon of human trafficking through an interactive game called Social Barometer. The floor was marked with a + sign, which means I agree with this statement, or, on the opposite side of the room, there was a –, which means I disagree. If participants are not sure about some statements, they could stand in the middle. Specific statements about the human trafficking phenomenon took a turn on the screen, and participants moved through the room in accordance with their beliefs. Before showing the “correct answer” and explaining certain statements, trainers talked to some participants to explain why they chose positive or negative sides. This way, open discussion was encouraged, and everybody had a chance to express their opinion or belief.
Later on, in summarizing the first day, many participants listed social barometer as their strongest impression and something they will definitely implement in their practice.
The participants, through evaluation, confirmed that all intended training outcomes were achieved. They acknowledged that the facilitators had a good grasp of the topic being covered and actively encouraged participants while adequately addressing their questions. They expressed their opinion about the importance of organizing training on the topic of human trafficking (involving children), considering that professionals within the education system are insufficiently informed about it. The school’s representatives showed significant interest in enhancing their partnership with ASTRA. Following conversations with some individuals, a preliminary arrangement was made to organize workshops focusing on the issue of child trafficking in their schools throughout the year 2024.
Some of the comments of the participants:
– “The training is exceptionally high-quality, comprehensive, rich in content, and encourages teachers towards more active engagement. Congratulations to you all!”
– “The training was excellent and personally very beneficial to me. It provided me with concrete tools for work. Thank you.”
– “The educators explain exceptionally well. They are warm, approachable, and cooperative.”
The project “Peer Support in Schools: Active Against Human Trafficking” is supported by the U.S. Embassy through the Small Grants Program.