The Network for Protection against Discrimination welcomes the Ombudsman’s recommendation to the Ministry of Education and Science to revise the sociology textbooks for the second year of high school education and to replace the disputed content with texts that are free from discrimination. The recommendation is contained in the Ombudsman’s response to complaints from the Network for the Protection against Discrimination on sociology textbooks containing discrimination based on gender, marital and family status, race, ethnicity, health and social status.
In recent years, the public and civil society organizations have reacted strongly and advocated for a complete revision of primary and secondary education textbooks, but the relevant institutions have repeatedly delayed the process. Given that the contents of the textbooks are a prerequisite for the emancipation of future generations, it is inadmissible for the textbooks to promote chauvinism, gender inequality and discrimination.
In 2019, the Ministry of Education and Science informed that the sociology textbooks were not included in the revision process from 2018 and therefore announced a revision of these textbooks during the academic year 2020/2021.
The Ombudsman informed that the Pedagogical Service announced a call for the establishment of a commission to give opinions on the submitted proposals for correction of the sociology textbooks after the authors of the two textbooks prepared proposals for changes. We express serious concern about the manner in which the correction of the existing contents are carried out, for which the Ombudsman has determined that they are discriminatory and from whose authors the Ministry again requests corrections. From previous experiences with changing discriminatory content in textbooks, authors are often insensitive and unable to recognize the perception of stereotypes and discrimination in the texts they have themselves written. Hence, it is necessary to hire authors who have modern knowledge in the field and who have the capacity to make quality textbooks. Most of the textbooks are filled with texts that are completely outdated and irrelevant, which means that it is impossible to get quality and modern content by changing only a few paragraphs.
We appeal to the Ombudsman to monitor the implementation of the recommendation in order to ensure that the Pedagogical Service, i.e. the Ministry of Education and Science as a competent institution, will take measures to remove and replace the disputed content with adequate texts that will be free from discrimination.
We demand that the Ministry of Education and Science act in accordance with its competencies, to start modernizing the educational content, to fully revise the textbooks used in primary and secondary education, as well as to withdraw from use all textbooks that promote harmful and discriminatory content. We remind you that education is a key area through which human capital is invested, and the right to education cannot be guaranteed by placing low-quality and irrelevant content. The lack of quality and modern content in education is a key factor that results in the devastating results of the PISA survey, according to which Macedonian students are in 11th place and according to which only Kosovo has worse results than us in the region.
The obligation to revise textbooks is enshrined in the Government’s Program for the period 2017-2020, and the UN and European Commission committees have repeatedly recommended and asked the state to remove stigma and discrimination from the educational content.
—————————————————20 May 2020