Education International Barometer of Human & Trade Union Rights in Education
Republic of Serbia
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  Pre-primary Primary Secondary Tertiary Spending % of
Serbia Total %F %P GER NER Total %F %P GER NER PTR Completion
% Total
% F
Total %F %P GER NER PTR Total %F %P GER GDP Public
2013 156890 48.6 1.5 58.4 58.2 288196 48.6 0.1 100.9 94.8 15.2 98.9 99.3 557425 49.2 0.4 94.4 93 9 238945 55.8 56.4
2012 155526 48.5 1.7 55.8 55.6 289403 48.5 0.1 93 91.4 15.6 93.2 93 565869 49.2 0.5 91.7 90.4 9.1 231661 55.8 16 52.4 4.4 9.6
2011 153257 48.6 0.8 53.2 52.9 288690 48.6 0.1 94.9 93.2 15.5 99.3 98.8 575948 49.1 0.8 91.5 90.3 9.3 228531 55.6 17.1 50.4 4.5 10.6
2010 157693 48.7 1 52.7 52.3 283161 48.6 0.1 95.9 92.7 16.4 96.4 96.6 590830 49.2 0.5 91.4 90.2 9.6 226772 55.3 16.5 49.1 4.6 10.5
2009 157566 48.62 0.6 51.34 50.9 282395 48.63 0.1 97.69 94.22 16.18 96.4 95.9 603834 49.36 0.5 91.5 90.24 10.03 235940 55.24 18.7 49.8 4.8 10.9
2008 154444 48.56 0.3 49.68 49.17 289785 48.82 0.1 100.63 97 16.59 104.45 104.8 608456 49.4 0.2 90.5 89.59 10.29 237598 55.39 17.7 48.67 4.7 10.8
2007 150651 48.7 0.2 49.61 49.06 297816 48.73 0 101.06 98.35 17.04 103.91 103.58 615135 49.44 0.2 89 10.81 238710 55.29 47.99
2006 167441 48.55 0.2 56.84 312469 48.76 101.83 97.91 622854 49.63 88.96
2005 162256 48.66 56.33 324490 48.79 102.61 97.69 632761 49.52 88.65
Last updated: 20 June 2007


Serbia and Montenegro were a state union until 2006 when Montenegrins in a referendum voted to separate from the union. This leaves the state of Serbia, which includes Kosovo, whose population is also demanding independence. In 2007 the UN received a report recommending independence for Kosovo, but this has been rejected by the Serbian government.

Serbia is a multi-party, parliamentary democracy whose President, elected by popular vote, is head of state. The Prime Minister has led Serbia's government since elections in 2004, which were held on the basis of universal suffrage and were deemed free and fair. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported evidence of disenfranchisement in the Roma community. 97,000 voters were registered in Kosovo, but restrictions on movement stopped many ethnic Serbs living in enclaves in Kosovo from voting; ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, with very few exceptions, did not participate in the election. There are 23 women in the 250-seat Parliament and 1 woman in the 16-member Cabinet. 11 members of minorities serve in Parliament but none are in the Cabinet. Low voter turnout of Roma continues their political marginalisation.

The judiciary is independent in law but reportedly subject to corruption and political influence. Legal cases can take years to be resolved. Several war crimes trials are ongoing. 14 Serbs were convicted of murder, torture and inhumane treatment of more than 200 Croatian prisoners of war in the first verdict on the Vukovar massacre. Following the showing of a video of the execution of 6 Srebrenica Muslims by a Serb paramilitary group called the Skorpions, the Socialist Party, the Serbian Radical Party and the Democratic Party accused the Humanitarian Law Centre of conducting an anti-Serb campaign.

2 of the most-wanted war crime suspects of the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia (ICTY) remain at large. The government has cooperated with the ICTY in turning over 14 people indicted for war crimes. Suspects in the assassination of Prime Minister Djindjic are being tried: the secret police special operations unit commander, his deputy and 12 others are charged with organising and committing the murder. Former President Milosevic, who was on trial at the ICTY, died before his trial was completed. 560 bodies exhumed from mass graves were returned to Kosovo, and identification is ongoing, but 2,464 missing-person cases remain unsolved.

Discrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability, language or social status is prohibited, but discrimination occurs against some groups.

Reports indicate the government interferes with correspondence and monitors electronic communications. There are public perceptions of government corruption and of authorities failing to act on evidence of suspected corruption.

Freedom of speech and of the press are guaranteed, but persons who criticise the government have suffered reprisals. Independent media are active despite threats. Libel is a criminal offence, though Parliament has replaced imprisonment with fines as punishment for libel, and some journalists practice self-censorship. Internet access is not restricted, but electronic communications are monitored.

Women are trafficked for sexual exploitation and children for organised begging. Seasonal agricultural labourers are exploited. Trafficking of children by Roma for use in begging or theft is a problem. Nevertheless, traffickers are sometimes prosecuted.

While there is no state religion, the property tax system favours the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the government subsidises salaries of Orthodox clergy in Kosovo.

Incidents of anti-Semitism are reported. Violence and discrimination against homosexuals are problems, and NGOs report that homosexuals are denied equal opportunities in education and employment.


?Education Rights

Education is compulsory for ages 7 to 15. Primary school grades and entrance exams determine which of the 3 types of secondary school children will attend. The grammar schools (gimnazija) last for 4 years and offer general and broad education. Professional schools (stručna kola) specialize in certain fields, while still offering relatively broad education. Vocational schools (zanatska kola) specialise in narrow vocations with a 3-year programme intended to lead to employment rather than continuing education. Tertiary institutions accept students based on their grades in high school and entrance exams results. A government survey reported that 99.8% of children attend school, apart from the transient Roma.

It is questionable whether disabled children and all ethnic groups were included in the study. Education of Roma children remains a problem. Many do not attend primary school for a variety of reasons, not least being social prejudice. Many Roma children do not learn to speak Serbian. Some are placed in schools for children with emotional disabilities because the Roma language and culture make it difficult for them to succeed on standardised tests in Serbian.

The UNHCR, with government support, conducts catch-up and head-start programmes for Roma children. 48 primary and secondary schools offer weekly Roma language and culture classes. The dropout rate is a serious problem, especially among children from disadvantaged groups. Teachers have been instructed to report suspected child abuse cases, but this does not often happen. Students in primary and secondary schools are required by law to attend classes from 1 of the 7 traditional religious communities or to take a class in civic education. Few statistical data on education are available.


?Early Childhood
Education (ECE)

A 4-year programme begins at age 3.


?Primary Education

Education is compulsory for ages 7 to 14; primary school begins at age 7 and continues for 4 years.


?Secondary Education,
Vocational Education and Training

Secondary education begins at age 11 and is completed in 8 years.


?Tertiary/Higher Education

10,038 Serbian students are studying abroad, such as in Germany (3,747), Hungary (1,194), Austria (1,007), Italy (712) and France (489).


?Children with Special Needs

The level of enrolment of children in primary school is reported to be high, but UNICEF reports that when analysis shifts from global indicators to categories of children the results prove to be quite different. UNICEF states that there are no systematic data disaggregated for certain social and ethnic groups. Pilot analyses show that there are serious problems in relation to the coverage of children from specific ethnic groups, such Roma and Vlasi children and children with special needs. Schools lack special measures to ensure access for children with physical impairments.

Only about 30% of children with special needs receive education, though the law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in education or in other state services. Facilities in institutions and special schools for the education and care of disabled children are reported as inadequate. A high unemployment rate makes it difficult for persons with disabilities to obtain employment.


?Refugee Children

The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol. The government has not passed legislation or established a system for providing protection to refugees. Some 140,000 refugees are reported to live in Serbia from successor states to the former Yugoslavia: 100,000 from Croatia, 40,000 from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The government is closing camps providing emergency shelter for internally displaced persons, and qualifications are being imposed for people to remain at such shelters, whose inhabitants include 9,000 refugees from Kosovo.

To obtain temporary residence status in Serbia, internally displaced persons must return to Kosovo and deregister from their previous addresses. Failure to do so blocks them from access to public schools, health insurance and social welfare. The Serbian Red Cross assists returning Roma. 40,000 to 45,000 displaced Roma live in Serbia; half are not registered. Many Kosovar Roma were thought to be Serb collaborators during the conflict and cannot safely return to Kosovo. Living conditions for Roma are in general extremely poor.


?Minorities and Indigenous Peoples

Religion and ethnicity are closely related in Serbia, and discriminatory acts are often a combination of religious and ethnic discrimination. Minorities constitute 25% to 30% of Serbia's population; they include Hungarians, Bosniaks, Roma, Slovaks, Romanians, Vlachs, Bulgarians, Croats and Albanians.

A resolution of the European Parliament asserts that the rights of minorities have been violated in Vojvodina, with cases of vandalism and verbal and physical attacks on ethnic Hungarians. A Human Rights Watch report on violence against minorities in Serbia reached similar conclusions. Neo-Nazis harass and physically abuse different groups. Some have been charged with inciting hatred and intolerance. Roma are targets of police violence and social discrimination. Many Roma live in squatter settlements that lack basic services, including schools.


?Academic Freedom

In 1998 the University Act was passed by the Serbian Parliament giving the government power over public universities and abolishing their autonomy. Loyalty to the regime became a prerequisite for academic promotion; numerous professors were ousted or banned from classrooms, and departments were reorganised under loyalist deans. It is unclear at the time of writing whether the Act remains in place or the government has changed it.


?Gender Equality

The Serbian government established a council for gender equality. Women's rights are ensured in family and property law and in the judicial system. However, traditional views of gender roles result in discrimination, especially in rural areas, where it is not uncommon for husbands to direct their wives' voting. Equal pay for work of equal value is provided in legislation, but salaries are on average 11% lower for women than for men.

Sexual harassment is common, but there is little public awareness of it as demeaning to women. Violence against women is pervasive. Trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation is reported. A meeting of Women in Black in Belgrade on the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre was attacked by some groups. Child marriage within the Roma community and in rural areas is a problem; Roma boys and girls often marry at 14 to 18.


?Child Labour

The minimum age for employment is 16, though in farming communities it is common to find younger children working with their families. Roma children work from a young age in a variety of jobs in the informal sector, and they are often forced into manual labour or organised begging or theft. The government enforces laws protecting children from exploitation in the work force.


?Trade Union Rights

Workers have the right to form and join trade unions, except military and police personnel. A large trade union federation that was the sole union representation under the previous regime now competes with smaller trade union federations. In the state-owned sector, 60% to 70% of workers are trade union members. In the private sector only 4% to 6% are unionised; in agriculture it is around 3%. Collective bargaining is permitted and is common in practice, with some 27% of the work force covered by collective contracts. A new labour law requires that collective agreements are negotiated for companies that have more than 10 employees. Wage arrears remain substantial. Workers have the right to strike, except those deemed to be in essential services, which encompass education, electric power and postal services and account for about half the work force.

Forced or compulsory labour is prohibited, but it occurs. The minimum wage, set by the Social Economic Council, is US$105 (7,400 dinars) a month and does not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Negotiated wage agreements are higher than the minimum wage. The standard work week is 40 hours



This report is followed by a separate report on the territory of Kosovo because the two entities are governed separately.
It is not clear whether the following statistics provided for Serbia include Kosovo, or are a combination of Serbia and Montenegro or cover only Serbia.

Country/Territory name Republic of Serbia
Population 10832545 (2005)
ILO Conventions ILO 29 (2000)
ILO 87 (2000)
ILO 98 (2000)
ILO 100 (2000)
ILO 105 (2003)
ILO 111 (2000)
ILO 138 (2000)
ILO 182 (2003)
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