Centre for Civic Education (CCE) expresses concern about frequent peer violence and discrimination among students in schools, which is based on intolerance and hate speech towards children and young people from war zones. Particularly concerns that intolerance and inciting behaviour come from students from Montenegro.
Ukrainian, as well as Russian children, who started this school year in educational institutions in Montenegro, have a difficult period of getting used to being away from home, and this is followed by getting used to a different school environment. At the same time, children from Montenegro are not timely prepared for this situation, i.e. that in this school year they will meet a significant number of new colleagues, which also brings new experiences and requires greater openness and understanding of diversity. If the child in the home community has not learned what discrimination is and what its consequences are, the school must address the issue.
The Government of Montenegro and educational institutions must urgently adopt guidelines, recommendations and an action plan for primary and secondary schools that will help teachers and associates to facilitate the process of inclusion of students- refugees in schools, and their parents in local communities, and to prevent peer violence. The Government should apply the Convention on Refugees and its Protocol, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, more substantively. A systemic approach to strengthening and building social skills in classrooms would enable the joint creation of a peaceful environment in the classroom, but also in the local community, where children and young people learn to respect differences.
In this direction, examples of good practices and the experience of countries in the region should be used, such as Croatia and Serbia. For example, in spring of 2022, the Ministry of Science and Education and the Agency for Education of the Republic of Croatia passed official acts, i.e. guidelines and the Decision on conducting preparatory classes in the Croatian language for displaced students from Ukraine, while the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Development of the Republic of Serbia brought a Manual for schools in the implementation of instructions for the inclusion of refugee/asylum-seeker students in the education system.
A systemic approach to strengthening and building social skills in classrooms would enable the joint creation of a peaceful environment in the classroom, but also in the local community, where children and young people learn to respect differences. New conditions, starting with overcoming the language barrier, the schedule and method of teaching, learning methods, and different teaching plans and programmes, represent new challenges that are faced not only by refugees but also by teachers. They must be responsible for the inclusion of these children in teamwork and for establishing mutual tolerance of the whole staff institutions and grooming professional closeness. In addition, it is important to work on strengthening the understanding of this situation by children from Montenegro who, unfortunately, are driven by some daily political impulses, express a worrying intolerance.
CCE believes that with a bigger focus on this question and the development of empathy among the student population can significantly contribute to mutual connecting and support for those who pass the difficult moments. This should be also the theme of parental meetings for achieving more efficient results in local communities outside of frame classes and schools, and the responsibility is also on the other actors in society to work on decreasing the tensions as radicalism is penetrating more and more among the youngest population.
Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor