When it comes to picking sides in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Serbian high school students usually side with Russia, history teachers have said for Danas daily.
The teachers added that the war in Ukraine has been discussed heavily among students in the first days after Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Aleksandar Markov, a history professor at a Belgrade high school, told Danas that students in almost every class asked him what side he was on: “I try to explain to students that this is not a game so you can pick a side, but that people are suffering and that they should view the conflict from that perspective. I explain to them that attacking another country is an act of aggression and cannot be justified for any reason, so you cannot condone Russia’s actions. I also talk to them about the United Nations Charter, an organization that was created with the idea of preserving world peace,” Markov explains.
He adds that high school students are disappointed when he assesses Russia’s attack as a form of aggression. “So, I try to explain to them that if we don’t see the Russian attack as an act of aggression then we cannot claim that what happened to Serbia (in 1999) was also aggression. It is important is to explain to children that war is not a means of solving problems and that common sense must prevail,” Markov says.
History professor Petar Panic also confirms that students are mostly on the side of Russia. According to him, their view of historical events was formed in elementary school, and history teachers, as well as parents, have played a key role in this.
He says that he was the only one in his school who pushed for having “geopolitics” as a subject in the curriculum, but that his colleagues believe that children should be directed towards applied sciences or some other subject.
Milan Jevtic, a history professor from Kragujevac, says students mostly express opinions they hear in the media or at home.
“The first thing I try to point out to kids is the condemnation of war as such, and then that every conflict requires two actors and that the blame cannot be on one side. I’ve noticed that the kids are superficial. This was an interesting topic for them in the early days of the conflict, but as time passes, their attention has been shifting to other things,” Professor Jevtic says.
This post is also available in: Italiano