Instead of enacting the needed reform, educational institutions remain prey to the authorities

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) considers that the recent examples of chaotic situations in educational institutions prove the recklessness and inapplicability of the General Law on Education by which after its entry into force, the election of the director in all public institutions must be conducted within 30 days, on the basis of which the authorized Ministry started appropriate actions.

During the adoption of this provision, which shortened the earlier deadline of six months for the election of heads of educational institutions to 30 days, the CCE pointed out that it is too ambitious and unrealistic, as well as that it causes legal uncertainty and confusion, which practice daily confirms. In addition, the CCE recalls that no provision in the text of the new Law prescribes that with the entry into force of the adopted amendments, the mandate of all directors in educational institutions ends by force of law, so every interpretation of the Ministry that it is needed to make the election of all directors is arbitrarily and illegal.

Therefore, all directors cannot be dismissed just because there is a new ruling structure that did not elect them, but the work of each must be assessed individually and according to clear criteria. There are also findings of the Education inspection, which determined irregularities in certain schools, and whose proposals for the dismissal of directors had not been acted upon by former ministers, thus protecting those directors for various reasons. Also, those ministers ignored numerous complaints submitted by teaching staff. New educational authorities must act on these findings and complaints first, and then, where they consider that problems exist, engage Education inspection or apply other mechanisms to determine the state and prosecute the responsible ones.

Dismissal of directors who have started their terms and who perform their job conscientiously and committedly is illegal. This can be the reason for many of them to initiate legal proceedings for compensation of damages, which will be paid by citizens of Montenegro.

The CCE reminds that even the elementary procedure of election of new directors was not followed, because there were no public calls announced by school boards or further evaluation of candidates by the Ministry’s Commission, which was supposed to follow the opinion of teaching boards about confirmed candidates. Publicly stated allegations of educators that directorships are given by determined party quotas of the ruling parties are especially concerning.

CCE notes, with regret, that earlier practice of controversial and party appointments of directors of educational institutions threatens to be developed even more drastically instead of suppressing it and acting through transparent, competitive and legal procedure for electing the heads of these institutions. It is worth noting that all this is contrary to the pre-election promises, as well as announcements of the very Minister that bad practise will be changed and that the educational system will be decentralized and depoliticized. Finally, such an approach cannot be stimulating for necessary improvement of quality of education, or for the development of critical thinking among teaching staff and students, while and leads to the new discord among teaching staffs.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor