The Workshop endeavors to provide a safe educational space for migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Belgrade. It is dedicated to providing high-quality, personal, and practical education, ranging from survival communication to professional skills-building. In this way, it caters to the range of refugees based in Serbia, assisting new arrivals who are unable to communicate, as well as preparing more advanced students for further academic progress or entering the labor market. The Workshop is moreover a community where refugees, locals, and foreign volunteers may come together to share knowledge, and allow refugees to escape from the difficult day-to-day camp life.
In April 2017 two independent organizations, Refugee Aid Serbia and North Star, opened ‘The Workshop’ in Belgrade, Serbia. UNHCR has most recently reported 3,711 migrant, refugees, and asylum seekers based in Serbia, 88% are reported to be based in government-run reception centers. The Workshop serves as a safe learning and recreational space for refugees living in the Belgrade area. The centre began by offering survival English classes, expanding over time to meet all levels. Today the Workshop has developed curricula for Serbian, German, Mathematics, and I.T. classes, in addition to providing a variety of recreational workshops and excursions to museums and other cultural centers in Belgrade. This academic year 95% of refugees between the ages of 7-14 are attending Serbian schools. Therefore we also offer extra-curricular support in Serbian and Maths classes, enabling our beneficiaries to keep up with their native peers.
Our facility is a starting-point for educational and recreational activities to stimulate and entertain refugees living in Belgrade, in the aim of: mitigating feelings of restlessness and frustration that stem from living in camp conditions; facilitating integration into Serbia and the rest of Europe; and reducing the learning gap. By recruiting volunteers from relevant faculties at universities throughout Belgrade, we offer students a bridge to Serbian culture and society, encouraging integration. Further to organized classes, the Workshop hosts photography, creative writing and other workshops, which receive wide interest from students. Cultural excursions have also been popular, including visits to museums within Belgrade.
The Workshop currently provides support to two refugee demographics within Serbia, those eligible to be enrolled in the Serbian school system, and those who are not. Our largest demographic are students who are not enrolled in full-time education: for the 2018 academic school year, only 12% of 14-18 year-old refugees are enrolled in school. For these beneficiaries our focus has been on developing language skills - English, German and/or Serbian - as well as providing the opportunity for skills building through classes and workshops (e.g. IT,CV writing and cultural workshops); developing a cultural understanding of the education system in Europe to either prepare for future university education or to develop language skills for future use.