Interviews with new potential students
This quarter’s focus was on wrapping up the end of the 2012/13 school year amongst our current scholarship recipients, providing them any additional support, mentoring and reflecting on the successes and failures of the school year to determine how to improve our outcomes. Our priority was also promoting our scholarship program across the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina in all the media, institutions, schools, nonprofit organization, etc to assure that as many great potential candidates heard and applied for our scholarship. We can positively say that the efforts were fruitful because this year we received more application than ever, four times more applications than last year. In total, we have received 116 applications, which made the decision for the Scholarship Selection Committee very difficult because we had decided that financially we were able to only accept five to ten new scholarship recipients.
Furthermore, to make use of the knowledge we collected during this period, and the experiences of the previous three years, we also decided to hire an independent consultant who would undertake monitoring and evaluation of our program during this quarter to give us recommendations how we can improve the success rate of our students, our oversight and overall effectiveness of the program in reaching our mission. Findings will be available in the next quarter and shared among our donors.
Students and Program Updates:
First part of this quarter was all about finalizing the school year and making sure that as many of our students passed enough classes to be able to continue on to the next year. For those that were able to pass all of their classes, the rest of the summer was left for relaxation. Those that had to retake their exams, some were scheduled for August and others for September, which meant that some of our students did not have a summer break at all. Bosana staff was particularly at students’ disposal in the previous quarter and this quarter doing everything that was in our power to help them prepare and succeed during the exam period. This meant closer monitoring, mentoring and offering paid instructions for those students that required additional help. Unfortunately, the results of the exams do not always depend only on students as BiH educational system has always struggled with corruption, nepotism and many times professors would not allow students to pass simply because they are allowed to only pass a certain number of students. For example, one of our students in Tuzla had particularly hard time to prepare for the exams and there was very little that she could do to assure her success because her professors cancelled many classes, there was never a set schedule to know when she would have exams, and so preparing and passing the exams was pure game of chance. The way our scholarship program is set up, those students that do not pass their classes and move on to the next school year are put on probation for the duration of the whole next school year while they retake those classes. They can exercise this rule only one year and if it happens again next year, without any detrimental reasons, the recipients completely lose their scholarship. This year, two of our students unfortunately had to completely lose the scholarship, while five were put on probation until the next academic year. The remaining fourteen (14) of our scholarship recipients are in very solid place and in many instances among the top students at their university.
We would particularly like to point out that there are three students who passed all of their exams and are going into the next year ready to take on new challenges without the baggage from the previous years. This year, Nadja Kasumovic was selected as our best student and as a result, she received a laptop that will help her continue to be among the best Bosana students.
As mentioned earlier, we accepted a total of 12 new scholarship recipients. Originally, we wanted to only take five because we wanted to make sure that we can sustain it financially and that we had the resources to give the appropriate support and mentorship that we pride ourselves that we give to all of our students. However, due to so many excellent candidates that we simply were not able to reject, we decided to give more partial scholarship than full scholarship to be able to take more students. Here is a list of the students selected into the new 2013/14 school year:
Recipients of the full scholarship:
Dino Alimanovic (Tuzla), studying Medicine at the University in Tuzla.
Majda Ferizovic (Tuzla), studying Physical Therapy at the University in Tuzla.
Selma Kurtanovic (Mostar), studying Radiology at the Medical University in Mostar.
Recipients of the partial scholarship:
Adnan Hodzic (Tuzla), studying Preschool education in Tuzla.
Brankica Draskovic (Pale), studying Ekonomics in Sarajevo.
Edis Isic (Maglaj), studying Electrical Engineering in Sarajevo.
Ivana Nikic (Trebinje), studying Medicine in Foca.
Selma Selman (Bihac), studying Art in Banjaluka.
Svjetlana Popovic (Banjaluka), studying Pharmacy in Banjaluka.
Additionally, once we saw that we will lose permanently two of our scholarship recipients and that some of our students will have their scholarship frozen for the coming year, the Scholarship Selection Committee decided to add three more students from the waiting list. These students are:
Dzenan Mahmutovic (Tuzla), studying Architecture at the University in Sarajevo.
Jasmina Fazlic (Zivinice), studying Turkish Language at the University in Tuzla.
Mirzet Omerovic (Kladanj), studying Economics at the University of Tuzla.
Scholarship Program development and noticeable improvements:
This year, due to the high number of applications, it was decided among out Board Members and staff that we should create a new project: Professional Development Program. This program was offered to seven scholarship candidates that demonstrated exceptional achievements in school and in their community but did not make it on our scholarship recipients list because we determined that they were still able to somehow finance their education without this scholarship. Namely, their situation was not as dire, they had both parents or at least one parent was employed. This program does not offer financial help right now; however, there are still a number of very useful benefits for these very promising and ambitious individuals. Through this program, they are offered to become part of the Bosana Foundation, have access to all resources that our students have: mentors, participate in our events, professional references and networks, internship and job placement assistance, etc. In return, these students will also have to volunteer minimum 10 hours a month and they will have to maintain a very good academic standing throughout their study. We would like to add that all of Bosana Foundation scholarship recipients in their last year are in addition to the scholarship program, also placed into this program to help them better prepare when they finish college.
First group of students that are going to be part of this new program are:
Anela Zorlak (Gorazde), studying Genetics in Sarajevo
Amir Beharic (Jajce), Criminology in Sarajevo
Faris Mujkic (Sarajevo), Electro technical Engineering in Sarajevo
Amila Bjelopoljak (Kakanj), studying Mechanical Engineering in Sarajevo
Denis Smajic (Bihac), studying Biology and Genetics in Sarajevo
Adela Vukas (Ilijas), studying Electro technical Engineering in Sarajevo
Adijata Vukas (Ilijas), studying Electro technical Engineering in Sarajevo
As mentioned earlier, we have also decided to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs to see how we can improve our management, provide more assistance to students, achieve greater outcomes and see if there are ways that we can directly improve the outcomes of our students’ success rate at the university. An independent evaluator was hired and the results of his research, students’ and their parents’ interviews, looking at the opportunities that the Bosana gave students that changed their lives and looking at the current educational and social situation of BIH and how Bosana helps alleviate these problems will all be included in the report that will be published in the next quarter.
Students’ exam outcomes and moving on to the next school year were our main concerns and challenges this quarter. September was make- or- break period for many of our students. We were positively surprised by the devotion of some students and their great results in this exam season; however, there were also those that were not able to successfully complete the school year.
Each one of our students has to submit a progress report, plan of action, when they have exams, and in addition we are in constant contact with our students to make sure that they do not have any personal problems that would prevent them from succeeding. In addition, all of our students know that they have funds for tutoring with subject that they struggle; however, even with these close contacts and efforts, we were not able to secure that all of our students do well in school. For this reason, we have hired the consultant to see how we can change and improve our management to improve our outcomes.
Finally, the foreseen challenge in the upcoming quarter will be the adjustment to managing our growing new group of students. The increase in size will bring more work in monitoring area, managing all student needs and requests but most importantly, it also means that we now have more pressure to raise additional funds to support the growing student body. In the next quarter, aside from the monitoring, fundraising will be out major concern.
students at interview in Mostar
Interviews in Zenica