Children in Serbia have to choose between religious studies and civics

by Mladen Aleksic

There is a regime sui generis for religious teachers in Serbia, which is still unresolved.

Their contract with the school lasts only for one year and after its completion, their resignation is required. They do not have the possibility to sign a permanent contract, by the actual “Law on the fundamentals of the education system.”

In 2001, the then-Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic decided to reestablish religious education in the Serbian school system. It was the period of renewing good relations between the State and the Serbian Orthodox Church. On November 2, 2001, the then-Patriarch Pavle held the first class of religious studies in school in Belgrade.

After 20 years, many ministers of education still try to find a solution to this problem. In January 2021, the Union of Education Workers asked the Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development, Branko Ruzic to resolve the status of religious teachers.

He replied to them on February 2 that “conditions have not yet been created” and that “such a complex situation requires a detailed analysis, a broader social debate and the declaration of the competent institutions, traditional churches, and religious communities.”

Also in the Serbian school system every year the students in primary and high school must choose one of the two optional classes: Religious studies or civics.

According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, there are 1902 religious teachers in Serbia.

As there are no official statistics about students who attend Religious studies and those who attend the class of civics, the Serbian web portal states that in 2019 there were 433,490 pupils who attended religious studies in primary and secondary education, which is 52.2 percent of all students.

385,854 attend Orthodox religious studies, 15,741 Catholic, 30,059 Islamic, 393 Evangelical Christian, 913 Evangelical Lutheran, and 530 Reform Christian.



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