Lifelong professional education of teachers in Serbia

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Народное образование. Педагогика

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V. Minich,
М. Yovanovich
Resume. This work covers issues of institutional and non-institutional education and advanced training of teaching staff. Today’s reforms in the field of education in Serbia, together with other strategies in the field of education, are focused on looking for new teachers with competences in psychological and pedagogical, didactic and methodological areas, with a high level of professional qualifications- a teacher with high motivation focused on innovations, creativity, lifelong advanced training and improvement of skills. Many factors bear evidence that only teachers with high professional skills can organize a high quality educational process at school, and consequently, prepare skilled professionals for life and labor in society.
Key Words: teacher, education, improvement, advanced training, Serbia.
Introduction. Education and professional training of teachers is a necessary precondition for organization of an efficient system of school education in each country. Presently, despite the changing roles and functions of a teacher, when a teacher is supposed to bear the function of an intermediary and to play the role of a flexible coordinator, organizer and programmer, the teacher’s personality becomes more and more important. A teacher is a necessary link in the educational and upbringing network that connects all participants and completes their success circle. That is why we need to stress that, currently, it is not enough just to receive a higher education certificate, because a degree certificate is not a criterion for further successful life. It is necessary to continue one’s education by following the changes in the society.
Institutional Education of Teachers in Serbia. Based on the example of the European states, Serbia switched to higher education of teachers of elementary and secondary schools in 1993. (Minich, 2012, 122). As a result, faculties of pedagogy and methodology of elementary education with «elementary school teacher» qualification in Belgrade, Sombor, Uzhice, Jagodina, Vranje and Prizren (which in view of the military situation temporarily was located in Leposavic) were founded. At the present time, the process of education at the above faculties lasts 8 terms, i.e. 4 years, and is organized based on «positive traditions of pedagogical schools and pedagogical academies and the applicable regulatory documents of the University'-» (Trnavats, 2005, 98). As for preparation of subject teachers, there are no specialized faculties in our country focused exclusively on education of students in accordance with the chosen subject. Students preparing to be engaged in a specific profession (physics, chemistry, mathematics, economics, engineering science, etc.), at their wish, join the educational network and find jobs at school, where their training is gradually expanding in the course of merging with such subjects as psychology, pedagogy and methodology of education.
The unique and global systems of pedagogical training of teachers in Serbia consist of four subsystems, which are closely related to each other in terms of their
functionality: «choice and selection of the teaching staff- training of the teaching staff during their education at a higher educational establishment- lifelong pedagogic, psychological, didactic, methodological and professional development of teachers, as well as monitoring and evaluation of the results of their labor. (Yovavich, 1996: 250). Pedagogical education is more and more often considered to be a global issue of modern society under conditions of globalization of society. The modern concept of education of teachers is based on the teacher’s capabilities and his or her professional skills to „bring up children to allow them to live together with children of other cultures- to have the developed ability to communicate- to be autonomous from the point of view of their profession, and to ensure „selfdevelopment“ during their career“ (Markovich, 1999: 284).
The Need of Continuous Professional Development of Teachers. Professional improvement is considered as „acquisition of new, and improvement of available knowledge, competences and skills necessary and important for the process of improving practical and work experience“ (Institute of Education Development, 2007, 11). The improvement process in Serbia is regulated by the Regulations ''Lifelong Professional Development and Improvement of Knowledge of a Teacher, Coacher and Professional Employee» (Official Business Bulletin of the Republic of Serbia, No. 14/2004 and 56/2005). Certain changes in society which are «social, economic and cultural, have an impact upon the teachers' position, upon the results of his or her work corresponding to the established quality criteria, as well as his or her education, i.e. comprehensive professional development» (Minich, 2007, 141). Lifelong education and improvement of teachers' professional skills was also initiated by the rapid development of Information Technologies that expand the scope of professional roles of a teacher, moving them closer to the role of a diagnostician, a therapist, a designer, a programmer, a coordinator and a partner in the course of education, which is very important for development of cognitive and emotional structure of a child’s personality.
An adequately organized process of advanced training shall be based on incentives, and shall be functionally aligned with changes that are taking place in the system of education and upbringing- this process shall also be comprehensive and systematic. It provides for teaching pedagogical staff for fulfillment of different professional roles, professional preparation for the purpose of planning, performance and evaluation of labor, as well as involvement into the process of lifelong education throughout a person’s life. N. Zulfiyu (1998, 530) stresses that the process of advanced training facilitates life management and understanding the importance of personal self-determination. The concept of «studying society», in fact, means acquiring knowledge throughout the course of a person’s lifetime, i.e. preparation for life, where a person needs to «equip himself/herself with useful knowledge» (Savichev, 2000, 11). Modern society becomes «happier, and more human, if people are persistently getting more and more knowledge and many high-quality skills» (Kalichanin, 1997: 55).
Professional preparation of teachers in our country is organized at three levels: national, regional and local. National level activities are governed by the Institute of Education and Upbringing Development and Institute of Education Quality Evaluation. The regional level has three centers of professional training of
staff in the field of education: in Nish (founded in 2004), in Uzhice (founded in 2006) and in Cacak (founded in 2007). The school, being a methodological center, is an «important point (element) of the whole system of education improvement and advanced training of teachers at the state and national level» (Vlakhovich, 2002, 54), and is a «meeting point» for exchange of advanced experience, tolerance and understanding, as well as acquisition of new knowledge relating to pedagogical science. Programs of professional development are well developed and are implemented by means of obligatory and selective (optional) courses. As a rule, they are implemented within the scope of workshops, lectures and discussions (Marinkovich, 2010, 124). Forms of professional development in our country include: congresses, symposiums, conferences and seminars.
Closing Remarks. In the course of studying the institutional system of education and the non-institutional system of lifelong improvement of professional skills of teachers, one can understand the importance of this problem in Serbia. The importance of the problem can be explained by the fact that teachers play the key role in the younger generation’s preparation for life and labor in society. The responsible position of a teacher in the course of training brings into focus the lifelong process of professional improvement as a key precondition for success and creation of a learning society, since the 21st century is a century of knowledge and lifelong education.
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Translated from Russian by Znanije Central Translations Bureau

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