No. 07-00-692/2019-02 date: 24. 2. 2020.
The opinion was issued in the procedure regarding the complaint of A. A. against the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development. The complaint states that the Geography textbook for the 6th grade of primary school, published by B. B, contains the following sentence: “In developed countries, the birth rate is low, because the position of women in society in the 20th century has significantly improved”, that this sentence and the remaining text in this paragraph are in many ways dangerous for forming attitudes in children, and that they encourage stereotypical opinions and behaviours and discriminatory attitudes. The statement of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development asserts that the Institute for the Advancement of Education and Upbringing, in its expert opinion, analysing the sentence that is the subject of the complaint, relied on indicators to check whether the textbook content is consistent with the curriculum, whether it is adapted to the age of students, developmental level and their prior knowledge, and that numerous professional and scientific literature in Serbia and in the world dealing with falling birth rates cite, as one of the possible reasons, among other things, better social status of women. During the analysis, the Commissioner especially had in mind that the disputed textbook is intended for children aged 11 and 12, as well as that it deals with a complex social phenomenon, which is influenced by numerous factors, one of which is better social position of women. During the procedure, it was determined that by using the causal conjunction “because” in the disputed sentence, it was suggested that the cause of the low birth rate was the improvement of the position of women in the 20th century. It has been established that such an allegation puts the change in the position of women in society in a negative context and encourages discriminatory attitudes towards women. It was further determined that the sentence: “Single life is common, because for many, careers and material things are often more important than family and children” condemns people who live in a way that is different from the traditional patterns of behaviour of men and women in Serbia. Considering that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development is responsible for approving the use of textbooks in the educational process, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality gave the opinion that the following text in the textbook “Geography for the 6th grade of primary school”, by Publishing House B. B: “In developed countries, the birth rate is low, because the position of women in society has significantly improved in the 20th century. Couples get married later, so they are less likely to have more children. Single life is also common, because for many, careers and material things are often more important than family and children” encourages discriminatory attitudes towards women, as well as that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development is responsible for the use of this textbook in the educational process, and that it has thus violated the provisions of Articles 6 and 20 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination. The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality gave a recommendation to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to take measures within its competence prescribed by the Law on Textbooks and the Rulebook on the Manner and Procedure of Giving Expert Assessment and Expert Opinion on the Quality of Textbook Manuscripts, Manuals and Teaching Materials, Aids, Didactic Tools and Didactic Game Tools, in order to eliminate discriminatory content and to prevent further use of the textbook “Geography for the sixth grade of primary school”, published by B. B, by authors S. S, R. R. and D. D, which was approved by the decision of the Minister number 650-02-00116/2019-07 from May 9, 2019, with such content, in the education process.
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY