Several hundred eighth-grade pupils from elementary schools in Belgrade protested in front of the Ministry of Education on Tuesday, following the decision to postpone their Math test after the test questions were leaked.
The pupils said they want to be allowed to enrol in high schools without taking the required three-part enrollment exam. They also called on the Education Minister Mladen Sarcevic to resign. The minister responded to calls for his dismissal saying that he sees no reason to do so. He later told the Radio and Television of Serbia that he had offered his resignation to his “bosses”.
Sarcevic also did not want to comment the situation with the final exams contacted by N1 TV station, and he walked out of last week’s Crvena Linija talk show on N1 when asked about a protest at a Belgrade high school.
Under the relevant Serbian law, elementary school pupils take final exams (Math, Serbian or minority language and a combined multiple-subject test) before enrolling in high schools based on their test results and on their grades in the last four years of elementary school.
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The pupils who protested staged a sit-down in front of the Ministry’s building before a protest march and called for a fresh protest on Wednesday at 1:00 pm. They also said they would show up at their schools at the time scheduled for their next exam but would not take it. Their parents were told that there was no-one in the Ministry who would talk to them about the problem of leaked tests and that Minister Sarcevic was absent, i.e. on an official trip.
Eighth-grade pupils also protested in the cities of Kragujevac and Nis, making the same demands as their fellow pupils in Belgrade
The head of the Serbian police, Vladimir Rebic said later that the protesting pupils threw eggs at police officers, saying that assault was absolutely unacceptable, adding that the police officers did not deserve to be humiliated. He called upon the protesters to refrain from any violence and to stop the attacks on police officers.
In a related development, prosecutors questioned the mother of a Belgrade eighth-grader who had a copy of the Math test that was leaked. Minister Sarcevic told Danas daily that the police and Security Information Agency (BIA) were conducting an investigation and had narrowed the investigation down to 15 schools in five cities.
Sarcevic also said that three women were involved in copying the test at a school in Zemun and sending it to a person who had media contacts.
Ombudsman Zoran Pasalic commented that he would be launching proceedings, in line with this authority, against the Education Ministry, a press release said.
Photo: Z. Knezevic
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