29. May 2014, 07-00-221/2014
– Director of the school –
Dear Mr. Director,
The institution of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality received the letter from S. z. m. lj. p. i. b. p. k. – T, which is designated as urgent, stating that the student of the T. school in T., F. L. from village O, Municipality T, has the status of part-time pupil because of psychological problems that occur in the developmental period. After the therapy, the student is cured, for which, as stated, there is a confirmation of a medical specialist.
According to the letter, on 4 June 2014, your school organizes a celebration of the prom evening, to which student F.L. wishes to attend in order to celebrate his graduation with his generation, but this was not allowed, because at school has taken the position that part-time students cannot attend the celebration of the prom night, that is, that right is guaranteed only to regular students. Furthermore, it is stated that the director rejected a written request from the parents of the student to approve the attendance of F.L. at the celebration of the prom night, as unfounded. This decision was promptly appealed with the School Board as a second instance body, who considered this issue at a session held on 29.05.2014 and which “returned the decision to the director for further consideration”.
Bearing in mind the fact that the celebration of the prom night is scheduled for 4 June 2014, and that there is a possibility of irreparable consequences incurring for the child, in accordance with my legal authority, I point to the fact that the laws of the Republic of Serbia prohibit every form of direct and indirect discrimination, in any personal capacity, which are binding for all legal entities.
One of the general principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Republic of Serbia has ratified, is the principle of non-discrimination, from which the obligation is derived to provide children with rights without any discrimination and regardless of race, skin color, gender, language, religion, political or other belief, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status of the child, his parents or legal guardians. With this Convention, the best interests of the child are identified as one of the principles of the Convention, which must be of primary importance in all activities affecting children, and it is also stipulated that the education of the child should be directed towards a comprehensive development of the full potential of the child, while developing respect for human rights, enhanced sense of identity and affiliation and his or her socialization and interaction with others and with the environment.
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia prohibits any discrimination, directly or indirectly, on any ground, and in particular based on race, gender, nationality, social origin, birth, religion, political or other belief, property, culture, language, age, physical disability. The constitutional prohibition of discrimination is further elaborated in the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination, which defines discrimination as any unjustified differentiation or unequal treatment, or omission (exclusion, restriction or preference), as compared to individuals or groups as well as members of their families, or people close to them, in an overt or a covert way that is based on race, color, ancestry, citizenship, nationality or ethnic origin, language, religious or political beliefs, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, financial status, birth, genetic characteristics, health, disability, marital and family status, previous convictions, age, appearance, membership in political, trade union and other organizations and other real or presumed personal characteristics. This law specifically prohibits discrimination in the field of education and prescribes that everyone has the right to pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education and vocational training under equal conditions, and that it is forbidden to make enrolment in educational institution to a person or a group of persons more difficult or impossible based on their personal characteristics, or exclude them from these institutions, to make it difficult or impossible for them to attend classes and participate in other educational activities, to classify pupils based on their personal characteristics, to abuse them in any other way, unjustifiably discriminate and treat them unequally
The Law on Education System Foundations also prohibits discrimination, that is, activities that endanger, disparage, discriminate or single-out persons based on racial, ethnic, linguistic, religious or gender affiliation, physical and psychological characteristics, developmental disturbance and disability, health status, age, social and cultural background, financial status, or political determination, and encouraging or not preventing such activities, as well as for any other personal characteristics. It is prescribed that discrimination presents any direct or indirect, in an open or covert manner, exclusion or restriction of rights and freedoms, unequal treatment or omission, or unjustified differentiation through giving privilege or priority. Within this law, the general principles of the education system are prescribed, and it is stated that the system must ensure that all children, students and adults have the same right and access to education without discrimination and singling-out based on any personal capacity, including the state of health and difficulties and disturbances in development.
Without entering into a detailed analysis of all procedures and decisions that have been taken in this case, in order to prevent, through timely action, child discrimination regarding the opportunity to celebrate such an important day in the life of each student with schoolmates and companions from their generation, I RECOMMEND that you revisit your decision, which denied the child’s opportunity to participate in the celebration of the graduation due to his status, taking into account the anti-discrimination regulations, and bearing in mind that as a school director you are obliged to respect the regulations on the prohibition of discrimination, but also to prevent the manifestation of any form of discrimination in the institution you run.
I hope that these recommendation will have a positive epilogue.
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY
Dr. Nevena Petrušić