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With a view to respecting the languages of national minorities recognized in the Republic of Serbia, the Protector of Citizens has requested the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development to withdraw by the beginning of next school year the Serbian language textbook for 8 grade Elementary School in which the existence of the Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin languages is being denied.

In early October 2021, following a complaint filed by the Croatian National Minority Council about discrimination and Croatian language denial, the Protector of Citizens initiated an investigation to control work legality and regularity of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and the Institute for Improving Education of the Republic of Serbia.

Within the investigation of control, the Protector of Citizens determined that line Ministry approved the publication of a Serbian Language textbook for 8 grade Elementary School in which the definition of South Slavic languages split reads that Croats, Bosnians and Montenegrins are using the Serbian language, naming it Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin languages respectively.

In the Opinion issued to competent authorities, the Protector of Citizens states that approving the textbook with such a definition violated the rights of national minorities because the existence of these languages, of which Serbian and Bosnian are used in the official use of languages and scripts in the Republic of Serbia, is denied.

At the same time, when evaluating the manuscript of the textbook, the Institute for Improving Education needed to take into account that the manner in which the Board for Standardization of the Serbian Language defined the split of South Slavic Languages may result in violation of national minorities rights and put recognized languages of national minorities in an unequal position, reads the Opinion by the Protector of Citizens.

In the Recommendations for rectifying the omissions, the Protector of Citizens has requested the competent Ministry to take all measures to withdraw the textbook by the beginning of 2022/2023 school year, and notify the Protector of Citizens within 60 days on acting upon the Recommendation.