In the Western Balkans and much of the world, countries still suffer from a mismatch between education systems and the needs of the labour market and society. This is often seen as one of the key causes of high unemployment rates especially amongst young people. In response to this challenge the 21st Century Schools Programme brings together critical thinking and problem solving with coding.

Ivan and Igor Marković are twin brothers, from one of the primary schools in Banja Luka, that participated in our pilot project during 2017-2018.  Working with micro:bit motivated them to solve the most annoying problem for them – having to help their mother park the car each time they were going somewhere with her. So, they used the micro:bit to create an affordable parking sensor that would help their mother park the car. With that project they won a third award at the National coding competition, recently held in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ivan and Igor got motivated by working with micro:bit to take on the course and recently got the diploma as Phyton developers and would like to work on furthering their education and pursuing the career in IT sector.

Meantime, their ambition is to develop still many projects using micro:bit and finding more solutions to problems that bother two of them.

“Micro:bit is an amazing device. Easy to use and engaging, students learn how they can solve the problem, create solution and even be awarded for their successful projects. That is a huge motivation for them”, said the teacher from Ugljevik, BiH.

During 2017 and 2018 the pilot was implemented in 135 schools across the Western Balkans. Results showed marked increases teachers’ understanding of the importance of critical thinking and problem solving in classroom practice, and students reported higher levels of confidence in coding. Everyone reported a surge in motivation. Learning was fun. 

So based on this success we decided, working with our Ministry partners, to take the programme to the next stage and aim for real significant change that will impact every school in the Western Balkans.

On 12th March the scaled up, three years, 10 million pounds programme was launched, aiming to provide one million students across the Western Balkans with problem solving, critical thinking and coding skills. Trough 21st Century Schools programme we are investing in young people’s future and addressing skills shortages in a sustainable manner.

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