Changes in Serbian schools as of 1st September

Some media outlets recently reported that students in Serbia can expect radical changes taking place in September at the start of a new school year, but as things stand now, the next school year will begin without surprises, except for the new policy that first-grade classes in both elementary and high schools can have up to 28 students.

Measures to reduce violence in schools, which are mentioned as new, actually came into effect last October through amendments to education laws and have been implemented in this school year. Specifically, these measures include the possibility of suspending a student who commits a serious violation of obligations, as well as  grading student’s conduct at school numerically from the second grade of elementary school.

The media also reported that, as of September, parents could grade teachers, which is not true.

What is actually meant is contained in the provision in the Rulebook on Assessment in Primary Education, which was amended in February this year, allowing the review of a teacher’s work if parents of more than half of the students in the same class have complaints against the teacher. The same rulebook allows the majority of parents to file a complaint about the work of school counselors too.

This solution has caused a storm of dissatisfaction among school employees, and even the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, requested its review. The entire issue ended with an assurance from the education authorities that the provisions of the Rulebook will be monitored in practice and amended if necessary.

This all occurred before the last parliamentary elections, and there were unofficial announcements that the contentious solution would be halted over the summer. However, so far, there is no information that the Rulebook on Assessment in Primary Education will be changed before the start of the new school year.

Although some media outlets claim that the most significant measure for teachers has already been adopted, namely the amendment of the Criminal Code, the truth is different.

After the protests by education workers at the end of May against violence towards teachers, an agreement was reached between union leaders and relevant ministries to introduce a new criminal offense regulating attacks on employees in educational institutions. However, as the union leaders themselves have testified, it was promised that the Criminal Code could be amended no earlier than the end of this year.

For now, a prison sentence for those who attack an employee in an educational institution is mentioned only in the draft of the Criminal Code amendments. If the promise is fulfilled, teachers will be guaranteed the same legal protection as lawyers.

The latest amendments to the Rulebook on Assessment in Primary Education include a provision that “there will be no parent-teacher meetings in the last week of the first semester or the last week of the school year.”

At the same time, the Ombudsman, Zoran Pašalić, announced that he would propose to the Ministry of Education amendments to the Law on the Basics of the Education System to introduce community service for students who misbehave, which, it should be noted, already exists in the law.

(Danas, 08.07.2024)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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