World Bank, Novak Djokovic Foundation Partner to Promote Early Childhood Development in Serbia and Globally

In a major boost for young children around the world, the World Bank and the Novak Djokovic Foundation today announced a new partnership to promote early childhood development, which will include global advocacy on the importance of investing early in the lives of children as well as investments to help disadvantaged children in Novak Djokovic’s home country of Serbia.

The joint “Early Wins for Lifelong Returns” initiative combines the Bank’s deep knowledge and programs on early childhood development with the power of Serbian tennis player Djokovic’s commitment to bring sustained attention to the social and economic benefits of early childhood development (ECD) programs for children around the world. Djokovic is the men’s world No. 1 tennis player and founder of the Novak Djokovic Foundation, which focuses primarily on early childhood development.

In Serbia, the World Bank-Novak Djokovic Foundation initiative will work together with the Serbian government to level the playing field for young children from poor and disadvantaged families. As a first step, the Bank is in discussions with the Serbian government about a project of up to $50 million for inclusive education and early childhood development in Serbia in the coming years. The Novak Djokovic Foundationwill mobilize additional resources for early childhood development through private sector partnerships and individual donations.

“Today is a great day for our children,”said Djokovic. “Thanks to this partnership between the World Bank and the Novak Djokovic Foundation much more will be done to improve quality and access to Early Childhood Education in my country in the following years. The early years of life are crucial, since most cognitive and social development occurs before the age of five. Therefore, we need to make sure all children have an equal chance to grow up and develop into productive, caring citizens of the world.I was fortunate to have had this critical support as a young child, and my dream is that all children, in Serbia and across the world, can fulfil their unique potential.”

Djokovic invited other organizations, including corporations, to join efforts to address these challenges. “We hope many will be supportive of this cause, because only by working together can we make great things happen for children,” he said. “By giving them a fair start in life, we are improving the future of our whole society.”

“The Serbian Government welcomes the new partnership between the Novak Djokovic Foundation and World Bank,” said Dusan Vujovic, Minister of Finance of Serbia, who was present at the signing. “Serbia is undertaking difficult reforms to help restore economic growth and competitiveness. The success of these reforms hinges on Serbia’s ability to enhance the quality of its human capital for sustained productivity increases. We recognize that investing in children is key to such human capital growth and greater competitiveness, as well as the best way to ensure a just and equitable society in the future. That is why we will join this initiative through a new World Bank financed project designed to support inclusive education and early child development.”

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