Kragujevac: After many failed attempts to find work as a kindergarten teacher, Ana Ivković (28) has an impression that finding a job she was qualified for was distant and elusive, almost like something from a fairy tale. However, she did not want to give up completely on the job that she was educated for, mostly because of her love for children that was actually her motivation to study at university. However, for Ana the road to a kindergarten was a long, windy and uncertain one.

With no job there is not much hope

After she completed her qualification for a kindergarten teacher in Bujanovac it was very difficult for her to get a job in a kindergarten. Life could not wait, so Ana accepted work as a primary school substitute teacher in the Primary School “Dositej Obradović” in the village of Prekovce in Kosovo. After that she moved to Kragujevac with her husband and two children. And she had to struggle again to find work.

“I really did have a hard time. We could barely survive, both my husband and I had no work. I tried to find employment, I visited one kindergarten after another, but to no avail. The only answer I got was ‘We’ll call you’”.

Ana says that she then started looking for any work whatsoever. There were many cases where employers refused her because they heard she had two small children.

Ana’s Plan “B”

Ana then turned to the plan “B” and took matters into her own hands. She had an idea and came up with a job that could bring her some money. She painted cups, glasses and bottles and sold them through her Internet page. And Internet was also a place where, after a friend told her, she found a public call for training for kindergarten teachers as part of the programme “From Education to Employment“. She immediately applied and sent her CV:

“My motivation was to expand my professional knowledge, to make some kind of insurance for myself and to start looking for a job anew, this time with a certificate. Any new knowledge in any line of work is very important and can only be helpful.”

Problems for the unemployed

She mentioned that it was very difficult for her to get organised to attend training since she had to find somebody to watch the children.

“I really had troubles with that, to be honest. I paid a girl to babysit my children so I could devote myself to training.”

Ana says that was how she made room for the training and decided to take a chance. Training for kindergarten teachers had a theoretical part of 12 days and on-the-job training in kindergartens in the duration of 2 months. After she passed the test on the theoretical training, Ana was selected for the continuation of training and participation in the practical part, on-the-job training for a kindergarten teacher.

From uncertain reality to a forest fairy tale

Thus Ana was surrounded by children and experienced teachers in the kindergarten called “Forest Fairy Tale”, and ready to acquire new knowledge about her profession.

“I wanted to learn everything, I asked about everything I was interested in, I soaked in everything new. During the training I also learned something that they never even mentioned at the university, such as for instance the documents to be filled in, register keeping, writing monthly and annual reports. It is very important for me that I acquired knowledge about inclusive education, and I also went through all the segments of child development. I learned everything a kindergarten teacher needs to know in working with children.”

Training that has it all

According to Ana’s words, the training for kindergarten teachers had everything that makes a teacher complete and ready to start working quickly.

“Under the watchful eye of mentors, the two-month long practical training was extremely useful, since I had no work experience as a kindergarten teacher, and as for university, we had some practical work in the duration of only ten days or so.”

Ana says that during the training she gained confidence and certainty for work in her profession. Although she did not expect it, after the training she was offered a job in the private kindergarten called “Forest Fairy”.

“I concluded an open-ended employment contract starting from 1 March. I am so very happy. I have an older combined group, about 30 children aged from 4 to 5.5 years.”

The most important thing, she says, is that the children have accepted her, they like her and feel safe and secure. She has also managed to have a good relationship with their parents as well, since cooperation with them is also very important.

She is especially proud of having become a member of the Team for Violence Prevention and Team for Inclusive Education in the kindergarten, which is a confirmation of the trust they have in her work, and she sees the teams both as a great challenge and an opportunity for professional development.

Life gets easier and better

Employment meant that Ana’s life became easier and better. She explains it in a few words: “When you work, everything is different”.

The founder and director of the privately owned kindergarten “Forest Fairy”, Neda Božović, says that there are more than 10 privately owned kindergartens in Kragujevac that were opened in recent years, since the capacities of state-owned pre-school institutions are insufficient.

“Kindergarten teachers are very much sought after, but it is very difficult to get quality personnel. All teachers with experience already work in state-owned institutions for child care. On the other hand, when you take an intern from the labour market you must write the criteria, procedure is a little more complicated, and we need new people fast.”

Neda points out the good sides of the “From Education to Employment” training for kindergarten teachers that her new intern Ana has completed:

“Now I have a kindergarten teacher who was ready to work independently from the very start. I believe this is a great way in the future as well to develop human resources in this profession.”

Coordinator for the kindergarten teacher training project, Sanja Milojević from the Association of Privately-owned Pre-school Institutions, says:

“We recognised, through analysis, the areas not covered by formal education of kindergarten teachers, so they were included in this training. And it led to our goal, for our trainees to find employment.  The result of our project is a high level of employment, out of 14 participants in hands-on training only 2 trainees did not get a job, since they are currently studying at university.”

Thus Ana’s dream of finding employment in her profession came true. Today in “Forest Fairy” she shares with the little ones the most beautiful children’s world of play and imagination.