“Dormant” students are the product of systematic stifling of critical thinking in higher education

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) congratulates the 4 April – Day of Students, to every student. CCE believes that there aren’t many reasons to celebrate this year’s 4 April, since there was no progress in the improvement of position and role of students in Montenegrin society.

Montenegrin students welcome this day in the arms of deep crisis of education system, which severely undermines their prospects of employment, because it has become ever-difficult to find a job with the qualifications obtained through the formal education system. Voice of youth rarely heard, even less acknowledged, which leaves the shaping of current social and political processes without the participation of young people. Montenegrin students are not perceived as stakeholders and bearers of social and political changes in their country.

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Unfortunagtely, as the consequence of such state of affairs, we see that students plan their acting abroad, not in their own state. CCE research indicates that half of young people in Montenegro would like to leave the country, as well as that this desire is stronger within those who are in the process of education, and in search of more quality educational, professional and living standards.

Question remains: who will be the actors of change in future of Montenegro?

CCE assesses that it is the obligation of all social actors to work on finding the answers to this question. In that regard, we express hope that the quality of education system and accountability of those who run it will improve through the inclusion of provisions within the planned amendments of Law on Higher Education, and hence create better conditions of studying and advancing so that our education system could produce the human resources capable of changing the things for the better in Montenegro. The priority lies precisely within the interventions in higher education, which should lead to much needed improvement of quality of teaching, regular evaluations of work of universities and faculties, and audits which findings would be publically available. In case the sector of higher education does not begin to improve soon, students will be the ones who will pay the highest price, later the society as a whole.

Finally, without the fostering of culture of dialogue and critical thinking on universities, and without the integrity of academic staff, there can be no empowerment of students. Academic staff which lacks credible references, and which is associated to numerous controversies, cannot serve as role model to young people or develop the critical spirit which is necessary in higher education and science.

Therefore, we wish more civic courage and engagement to students, and to use the same to fight for their rights, starting from the right to quality education, to the implementation of that knowledge for public good.

Mira Popović, programme associate