October 17, 2022 Several women's organizations demanded from the Institute for the Improvement of Education and Training (ZUOV) to deliver to them and publicly publish the opinion of the Working Group, which was formed at the request of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development in order to determine the alleged shortcomings of the biology textbook for the eighth grade of elementary school, and the explanation that has been submitted to the publishing houses Klet, Zavod za udžbenike (Institute for Textbooks), Eduka, Data status, Gerundium, Vulkan Publishing and Novi Logos, which obligates them to submit corrected textbook manuscripts to ZUOV.
You can see the request submitted to the Institute HERE.
The organizations that had requested clarification, received (on October 25, 2022) information about the procedure, the composition of the working group that had reached conclusions on the changes to the textbooks, as well as the "disputed contents" and explanations of the working group for 7 out of 8 biology textbooks.
The Ministry of Education first requested an expert opinion from the National Education Council. The expert group formed by the National Education Council stated that the biology teaching and learning program for the 8th grade of elementary school is based on scientific facts, but added that "no interpretation of the program can contain elements of ideology and that psychological factors and the students’ prior knowledge in sociology must be taken into account when it comes to the interpretation of the program". Based on that, the Ministry of Education asked the Institute for the Improvement of Education and Training to review the contents of the approved textbooks in relation to the content related to the "biological meaning of adolescence (gender and sexual identity in the context of hormonal activity and individual genetic variability) and the related part of didactic -methodical instructions for implementing the program".
By the decision of the Director of the Institute for the Improvement of Education and Training, a working group was formed which gave an expert assessment. Members of the working group were:
- dr. Slobodan Antonić, Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade (sociology)
- dr. Časlav Koprivica, Professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade
- dr. Zoran Avramović, Scientific Advisor and University professor, Institute for Pedagogical Research, Faculty of Philosophy in Kosovska Mitrovica - retired
- dr. Uroš Puvaković, Professor at the Faculty of Teacher Education in Belgrade
- dr. Miša Đurković, Research Associate of the Institute for European Integration
- dr. Jovan Mirić, Associate Professor of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade (psychology) - retired.
Although the Institute states that the members of the working group (all male) were "selected according to an established procedure from the list of external experts", they are known to the public as proven representatives of traditionalist, conservative, right-wing and anti-gender attitudes and values.
The institute has submitted the remarks of the working group to the information seekers, which are currently being analyzed by members of the ad hoc working group, experts in gender issues and psychology. After the analysis, new advocacy activities will be planned and organized, in order to stop the current process and prevent the announced changes to the programs and textbooks of other school subjects, according to the same criteria.