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Education in the Republic of North Macedonia – seedling for discrimination and harassment based on gender, sexual orientation and gender identity

Lawsuit for discrimination present in the textbook “Fundamentals of Personology 2” by prof. Blagoja Janakov, PhD, which is part of the curriculum of the Faculty of Philosophy at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje was submitted by the non-governmental Coalition Margins in collaboration with the Network for Protection against Discrimination. Blaming women for the rising number of divorces, condemning abortion and classifying same-sex partnerships as debauchery are just some of the disturbing content we seek to remove and replace with scientifically based content that is in line with contemporary scientific thought. Institutions have an obligation to provide education aimed at the full development of the individual and the strengthening and respect for human rights and freedoms, which is why the textbook must be free from all forms of discrimination.

After several attempts to attract the attention of Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, the Faculty of Philosophy and the authors of the disputed textbooks that are part of the curriculum of this unit, and to demand the withdrawal of the disputed content, we encountered resistance and ignoring of our demands. Additionally, the mentioned author of the textbook is already a retired professor, but his controversial textbooks are still used in the teaching of this faculty.

The Margins Coalition, together with partner organizations from the Network for Protection against Discrimination, has been working for more than a decade to eliminate discriminatory content in textbooks that contain untrue, scientifically unfounded views that perpetuate gender prejudices and stereotypes and harass people with different sexual orientations and gender identity. We identify more than 20 textbooks at all levels of education that contain discriminatory content, mostly based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and health status, and at our initiative some of these textbooks have been removed. However, the fact remains that educational programs and materials are still full of content that creates and maintains a humiliating and hostile environment for women, sexual and gender minorities.

The need to change the teaching materials in 2011 was pointed out by the European Commission in the Progress Report on the country, but so far little has been done to eliminate discrimination in education.

Due to this, the Margins Coalition and the Network for Protection against Discrimination inform the public that, in addition to the court proceedings, we are launching a series of activities to raise awareness of the professional and general public about the need for education reforms that will ensure quality in knowledge, progress in science and the creation of new generations of true professionals who in their profession will be guided by facts, not prejudices.


9 December 2020