The village of Ladimirevci, in Osijek-Baranja County, is in the historical Slavonia region of Croatia, in the eastern part of the country, and close to the border with Serbia.
Ladimirevci is a small town with less than 2,000 inhabitants. Slavonia is one of the poorest regions in the European Union.
Children and young people who grow up in this area need extra support so that they have the access they need to schools and health care.
Since 1995, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Ladimirevci.
Due to uneven development across Croatia, small towns like Ladimirevci and other rural areas in the east and southeast are the most impoverished, with up to 34% of people living in poverty.
In fact, a large share of children living in poverty (65%) are in rural communities, which often lack health and education services. Consequently, children born into rural poverty may face long-term consequences when they are adults, in terms of their educational attainment as well as their health and well-being.
In Croatia, rural areas like those where Ladimirevci is located, have inadequate resources to support children’s education.
Due to insufficient places, only 1 in 12 rural children attend nursery (1 in 5 in cities) and 1 in 3 attend kindergarten (2 in 3 in cities).
In addition, locally-defined enrolment criteria do not favour children at risk or from rural areas. For children from lower socio-economic backgrounds, missing early education can hinder their social and cognitive development, as well as their social inclusion.