Stefan and Dragana (left to right) - Presentation at the national competition

Primary school Boško Radulović is situated in Komani, one of the rural settlements positioned only eight kilometres from the urban part of Podgorica. In this school 14% of students are classified as students with special learning needs.

Low socioeconomic status in childhood is related to poor cognitive development, language, memory, socioemotional processing, and consequently poor income and health in adulthood. Considering those challenges of Montenegro society in general and Komani’s students in particular, project Schools for 21st Century was greatly welcomed by the project team as it gave opportunity to the disadvantaged students from low socio-economic background, and especially girls, to learn, engage and have a fun. 

Some girls took leadership roles.  Moreover, this project included students of all ages and abilities. Even the students who did not want an active role at the beginning of the project eventually showed interest in technology and coding. Four students with learning disabilities also took part in the project. In total, 27 primary schools students from Komani were involved in the project.

Multi curricular project - model of a town with accompanying traffic regulations and other elements

More about project

They used Micro:bit to create the traffic model to support students from rural areas to understand traffic rules and basics of behaviours in traffic in the big towns. This was a big learning for both the teacher and the students.

The Coding club was a meeting point for students and teachers to exchange ideas and create a cross-curricular project. They were getting together at least once a week in IT classroom where students worked on development of joint projects using Micro:bit devices.

Students with difficulties were actively involved in the Code group work. For example, one girl with learning difficulty from 5th grade was in charge of scoring during the quiz. According to our respondents ‘she was very pleased with her task and proud of herself’. Two other students from grades seven and nine were part of the teams and they also enjoyed it.

The math teacher was very proud to explain the process and the aim of the project:

‘When we were making a model of the city, the idea was for the children from the village to get acquainted with the traffic regulations. We included roundabouts, commercials, schools, etc. We even thought about how to involve the sponsors of that teaching aid. If the children answer the question correctly, for example, then they can cross the street. If not, they must return. The children did everything themselves. The goal of the game was to go from home to school but the two teams need to take a different path but with the same number of intersections to make it equally difficult for them. They get questions at every intersection. The micro:bit was used by us to do some basic operations. For example, turning on a traffic light. We did not use conditioning. However, we all managed to master at least some basics of Micro:bits’.

...‘the whole school got involved. The project was for those from grade six to nine. But we enabled students from lower grades to participate as well. The youngest ones were also doing something. We included those who are studious and those who have special needs and those who are good students and those who are not, we involved both big and small children’.

Impact of the project

The project has influenced the school significantly including at the level of individual students’ skills and self-confidence, school-wide increased student participation and improved relationships among students and between students and teachers.

Students who most actively participated in the project expressed wish for the project to continue to give them a chance to enhance their coding skills further, to improve their individual projects, to travel and present their work regionally.

Further on, the students also appreciated independence given to them and in that regard one of them says: ‘the teachers let us do everything ourselves. It empowered us and gave us strength to succeed’. The other student stressed that the project also brought students and teachers closer together.

The project addressed above mentioned widely spread gender inequality problems. Being aware of a status of women in Montenegro society, teachers involved in the project purposely encouraged girls from the school to participate in the project. One teacher said in that regard: ‘Montenegro always puts woman down. That's why we focused on the girls. In a school of 27 students, we have only two girls in grades 6-9, and both of them were selected to be a team leaders’. One of the girls who took a team leader role Dragana is a child from the village, a child of two parents who only finished primary school. She was initially unmotivated and did not even want to participate in the project. Later on, she was hesitating to participate in the project public presentation. Teachers put special effort to encourage her to participate, gave her space to make decisions and lead her team. 

The girl herself mentioned that the project also positively influenced her two younger sisters because they could see ‘that the girls can code’ and that ‘our potentials are limitless’. She is now in high school but according to her she is still very proud of everything she achieved in this project. It gave her a sense of self-achievement and confidence. She'll never think again "I'm just a girl from the countryside. And I can't or I don't deserve it".