The awarded representatives of Serbia for the Global Teacher Prize 2020

Another ceremony has been held at which the awards were given to the Best Educators of Serbia, who will represent us next year at the world competition the Global Teacher Prize! The awards for above-average achievements in work and career were handed out to these brilliant teachers in the premises of the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia in Belgrade, on Saturday, 21st September, organized by a non-profit, non-governmental Association for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship “Živojin Mišić”.

The Association “Živojin Mišić”, which has been a national partner of the Varkey Foundation for the third year in a row, has selected the representatives of Serbia for the competition Global Teacher Prize which is believed to be at the Nobel Prize level. Their aim is to find the best teacher of the world and ours is to show that Serbia has the teachers worthy of that title. 

The candidates for this competition are Ivana Kovačević, a Serbian language and literature teacher from Belgrade, Borko Petrović, an English language teacher from Paraćin and Zoran Ilić, a general education teacher from Leskovac.

The ceremony, attended by both the awarded and their colleagues the Best Educators of Serbia, members of the board, numerous guests and friends of Serbian education, was opened by Ivona Jovanović, the coordinator of the Association. She pointed out how much the Association is proud of the great representatives it has and with whom it cooperates, who do so much for our children. Who contribute to their local community, who contribute to the education system of Serbia, who unselfishly give themselves so as to create a better future for all of us.

She especially thanked the members of the board who once again had invested their time, effort, knowledge and helped us choose just these three teachers who will represent our country in the world. The board which worked on the selection of the national representatives this year was made of Branislav Ranđelović, vice-chairman of the Institute for the Evaluation of Education Quality, Dragica Pavlović Babić, the coordinator of the Pisa research in Serbia and research assistant at the Institute for Psychology in the Field of Education, Ivana Cenerić, the coordinator of the research at the Centre for Education Policy, Srđan Verbić, the former minister of education and a member of the Atlantis Group, Vigor Majić, the director of Petnica Research Station, Zoran Stanojević, the editor and reporter of the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation and the representatives of the Association “Živojin Mišić”.

On behalf of the board, Srđan Verbić addressed the guests and wished luck to all the candidates in the following competition “The mission of the Association ‘Živojin Mišić’ is the same as the mission of the Varkey foundation”, what the Association does at the national level, the Global Teacher Prize does at the global level. This is how these two foundations joined together, wishing to give prominence to fantastic people in the field of education and award them for all their effort and work which they unselfishly give every day”.

This competition also deals with shooting films about the work of the candidates and the Association has shown the films of our representatives for the first time, which you will be able to watch here.

Isidora Kadijević handed out the awards to Ivana, Borko and Zoran and thanked them once again for their great contribution and work. 

After the award presentation ceremony, the attendees were addressed by Ivana Kovačević, awarded as one of the Best Educators in 2018, one of our candidates for the Global Teacher Prize. 

Ivana Kovačević greeted all the present and thanked the Association Živojin Mišić for this award: “It is a great honour for me to be one of the representatives of our country and show the education system of Serbia as a system which strives to provide each student with a high quality and continuous schooling. I take this opportunity to thank all who are present today because they take part in the mission of my school together with me to make education available for each child and emphasize the importance of education in all circumstances. Before all, I would thank the Association for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship “Živojin Mišić”, Ivona Jovanović and Isidora Kadijević; the chairman of the board Mr Srđan Verbić; the headteacher of Primary School “Dr Dragan Hercog” professor Ljiljana Bajić who had supported my professional development within the doctoral studies at the Faculty of Philology of the University of Belgrade, my family who supports me at every moment, friends and colleagues from school from whom I had learnt much about the work system at our school and, the most, my students who inspire me to work even better and more…”

Borko Petrović, one of the candidates for the best teacher of the world, has compared his career with a story “A boy who survived…”, emphasizing that there are always two faces of one story and our choice is what defines us. He told us the story about an oversensitive child who had some problems at schools, who is behind in learning writing, who was a victim of bullying and who, despite all of this, managed to overcome all of this, graduate from the faculty, be appreciated in his job and be the winner. Another story is the one in which the same boy has primary school teacher Mirjana Aleksić, who helped him, worked with him additionally, who managed to make up for everything which he had missed, where he began to believe in a better system and that there was a better face of the story. “So, at the end of the day, that boy stands before you but not despite all difficulties as in the first story, but thanks to all the people who have helped him because I am not the only one who makes education. My mother also made education and my wife who puts up with my absence day and night and I thank my family the most, who helps me accomplish my mission. Every day I wake up, thinking: “How can we save the world today?” You have heard the two stories. Both are true but I believe more in the second story; it has saved me”.

The third candidate for this prestigious competition, Zoran Ilić, one of the awarded Best Educators of Serbia 2018, thanked the guests, friends and members of his family for sincere greetings and support for the teachers trying to make this world a better place. For his film, in which his long-standing career has been presented, he said that he would certainly make strong influence on his further work and that he would support his mission. “Whenever I feel weak or disappointed due to this short film, when I begin to fall – I will watch it, remember what I went through, what mud I wore on my shoes, soul and back, how many times I fell and how many times I stood up again, how many times I said here you are and how many times I waited for thank you. And how many times I received that thank you. When I know that I left an imprint on my children, and then on their children, which they will be glad about; glad about the success of others and their own because this is also their success, this is a nice story”. 

The best teachers were talked about even by their colleagues and collaborators. 

Tijana Radosavljević is Ivana’s colleague and she has shared with us her experience of her work with Ivana Kovačević: “Ivana isn’t someone who I only work with and cooperate, but she’s my great friend and support. She’s the inspiration in every sense of the word – first as a mother, friend and most as a teacher. Our job at Primary School “Dr Dragan Hercog” where we work with the children under hospital and home treatment isn’t easy at all and requires a lot of energy, cause worry to us, dilemmas, fears, but when you have someone such as Ivana by yourself, then everything becomes somehow easier”.

Mrs Snežana Tanić, the headteacher of Primary School “Stevan Jakovljević” in Paraćin where Borko works, addressed the public: “Borko Petrović is a teacher magician because he can turn a usual, digital classroom in no time into the biggest national park in the world and make it possible for students to talk with a ranger from the national park in English during the lesson. Teacher Borko makes ours students happy – do you know how nice it is when students are happy in class, they are self-regulated. He prepares them to become the citizens of the world and I congratulate him on this.”

Zoran’s colleague Trajko Milošević has said to Zoran: “A prestigious title of general education teacher for the 21st century belongs to you because you have deserved it by your work, humaneness, patience, unselfishness, persistence, great dedication and, before all, by your vast knowledge. I’m proud that I have a privilege of working with you, exchanging our opinions and experience and learning from you.

Once again thanks to our fantastic teachers, members of the board, collaborators, guests, the Best Educators of Serbia who came to support their colleagues and thanks to the Chamber of Economy of Serbia for the given space. Good luck in further competition and keep exceeding the limits and creating the possible out of the impossible.

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