It is illegal to fund private schools that are not licensed in accordance with procedures

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) sent today to the Minister of Education, Miomir Vojinović, the Initiative to review the legality of licensing of private institutions, the Secondary Religious School “Sveti Sava” from Podgorica and the Gymnasium “Metropolitan Sava Hadži Kosanović” from Nikšić and the withdrawal of the request for their funding from the Budget.

The CCE appreciates that with the request to allocate 900,000 EUR from the Budget of Montenegro for the financing of two private institutions that are not licensed in accordance with the legal procedure, the minister enters the zone of criminal and misdemeanour liability.

Namely, a few days before the formal end of the mandate, the former Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Vesna Bratić, in April 2022, gave a decision on the licensing of these institutions of questionable legality. We remind that Government got non-confidence vote at the beginning of February 2022 and that this act was adopted during its technical mandate, which makes its legitimacy questionable.

A license for a private institution of education, among other things, get be obtained based on the educational programme (curriculum) and becomes publicly valid when it is adopted by the Ministry upon the approval of the National Council for Education as the competent body. The National Council did not exist in April 2022, because its mandate expired in September 2021, and this is an additional issue of lack of promptness of the then minister to raise this issue with the Government. It is clear from this that the mentioned private institutions could not get a license to work, and consequently their financing from the Budget would be illegal.

The Ministry cannot change a special part of the publicly valid educational programme determined by the National Council, when it is determined, which was not the case here. The only role of the Ministry is to eventually return the determined special part of the publicly valid educational programme to the National Council for reconsideration and determination, which did not happen, because this body did not even exist.

In this context, neither could be adopted measures for establishing validity and equal value of the educational programme of a private institution with the publicly valid educational programme adopted by the National Council, on the proposal of the Institute for Education and the Center for Vocational Education. Also, there is no publicly available information that the Institute for Education and the Center for Vocational Education were even involved in this process.

CCE believes that it is indisputable that these institutions cannot start working until the proceeding is initiated for reviewing the illegally issued license, and also the repeated procedure for their issuance, which entails precise procedures. Until then, any action by the Ministry based on the currently illegal decisions on the licensing of the above institutions makes the Minister and the Ministry complicit in violating the law.

The CCE expresses its belief that Minister Vojinović will not consciously cause further damage to the Budget of Montenegro for the sake of achieving some particular interests, as did former Minister Bratić, for whose disobedience of the law there are already final judgments that will be paid by all citizens of Montenegro.

Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor