Novak advocates early childhood education and development of specialised preschool programmes inclusive of marginalised children

Smederevo, 26 September 2011 – UNICEF National Ambassador in Serbia Novak Djokovic has visited today the Kindergarten Pcelica in Smederevo. He spent some time with the children, and became acquainted with the work of this preschool institution, which is a good example of inclusive early childhood education. This visit marks the beginning of the tennis champion’s assignment as UNICEF Ambassador to actively fight for the rights of the child and to promote the importance of early childhood education.

“What I learned as a young child continues to have a tremendous impact on my life today. I had a unique privilege to have a good start in life and a chance to develop my talents. But the starting line is not the same for all children. Those born into poverty or on the margins of society require our extra support to realize their dreams. Preschool programmes are essential to give every young child the maximum possibilities to succeed in his further education. They provide them with a winner’s starting position“, said Novak Djokovic.

Latest research has shown that fewer than half of Serbia ’s children age three to five attend pre-school programmes. For the most deprived groups, this percentage is even lower – less than 10 per cent. That is why UNICEF has set, in agreement with the Government of the Republic of Serbia , the education of young children as one of the key programme priorities for the period 2011-2015. It is planned to expand the existing services and develop specialised programmes for early childhood education inclusive of vulnerable and marginalised children, to establish relevant standards, to strengthen support to families, as well as to mobilise local communities to give priority to early inclusion.

“UNICEF is thrilled to have Novak Djokovic as a National Ambassador for Serbia and particularly pleased that he has chosen to focus on early childhood education. Our goal is that all children, and especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have a good start in life. Novak himself had such opportunities, and this is why we are confident that he is the best possible champion of early childhood education in Serbia ”, said Lesley Miller, UNICEF Acting Representative in Serbia .

On 29 August 2011, UNICEF appointed Novak Djokovic as an Ambassador in Serbia . In his new role, Novak will be using his name and fame to support UNICEF’s work in the area of early childhood development and inclusive preschool education.  

For more information please contact:

Jadranka Milanovic, UNICEF Communication Officer,

Tel: +381-11-3602-100;


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