October 18, 2022 Women's civil society organizations to organize a new, special session of the Committee for Education, Science, Technological Development and Information Society of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
They point out that public education is the interest of the whole society and therefore the gross abuse of authority, as well as science and profession, in connection with changing the content of the biology textbook for the eighth grade of elementary school cannot depend on the decision of the Minister, nor on the initiative of the Church in a secular state. They remind that the Republic of Serbia has passed the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, as well as the Law on Gender Equality, which obligates the prohibition of discrimination, the policy of equal opportunities and general and special measures to achieve equality.
They remind that the Republic of Serbia is also a signatory to international treaties on the protection of human rights, which oblige it to ensure equality and equal opportunities, without discrimination based on any characteristic. This also applies to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. The organizations remind that the Republic of Serbia received reports from international bodies that monitor the implementation of the mentioned conventions, and in both cases recommendations on the necessary improvements that include the area of gender equality in the education of children and youth.
Therefore, the organizations request that, in addition to the competent Minister and the responsible representative of the Institute for the Improvement of Education, other relevant participants, representatives of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, be invited to a new, special session of the Board for Education, Science, Technological Development and Information Society, and before the competent Minister for Human and Minority Rights and the Deputy Prime Minister and the President of the Coordinating Body for Gender Equality, as well as the representatives of the Committee for Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality. Also, that they invite representatives of the scientific and professional public for the school subjects of biology, psychology and sociology, and to open the session of the Board to the interested public, such as civil society organizations, signatories of this document.
The lack of publicity of the composition of the working group which, at the request of the Minister, made a new evaluation of biology textbooks for the eighth grade of elementary school, as well as the document containing the opinion and evaluation of the textbooks, the lack of publicity of the decision on textbook corrections that was sent to the publishers, as well as the announcement that such a precedent could also occur in relation to other school programs and textbooks, obligates the Committee for Education, Science, Technological Development and Information Society in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia to react and ensure the public, accountability and legality of the decisions of the minister responsible for education.
You can see the request sent to the President of the Board HERE.
The Committee for Education, Science, Technological Development and Information Society of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia sent a response to the request of a group of women's organizations (November 1, 2022), informing them that at the Committee meeting on October 4, 2022, a discussion was organized, which was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Education (the Minister, state secretaries and assistants), as well as representatives of the National Assembly who are not members of the Committee. Also, it was stated that the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly do not allow the Committees to organize special sessions, and that it is within the responsibility of the National Assembly in the plenum.
The recording of the third session where the issue of our interest was discussed is available HERE.