Education Ministry Gets Its Own Protest Tent

By 2 June 2016

Following yesterday’s mass protests in support of curricular reform, several students start their own protest at the Education Ministry.

While the protest tent in front of the Veterans Affairs Ministry building is gone, a somewhat different tent appeared in front of the Education Ministry building. The protesters this time are not war veterans demanding benefits, but several students asking the Ministry why the government is late in payments of state-sponsored scholarships, reports Jutarnji List on June 2, 2016.

The students did not plan to protest, but they simply have had enough. They picked up their tent and set it up in front of the building housing the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, where they plan to camp out until their scholarships are paid. Students Sindy Čolić (23) and her friend Dorotea Šušak (19) plan to stay in front of the Ministry and protest because they believe it is the only way to receive scholarships they were promised.

“The school year is over, and I had to survive on savings from the work I did last summer. I have won the scholarship, but no payments have been made in the last six months. When we call the Ministry to ask for more information, they just pass the responsibility to each other”, said Sindy.

Her colleague Dorotea did not even apply for a scholarship. She is protesting in solidarity with her colleagues who can barely make ends meet, without any financial help. “We want to protest peacefully because we cannot wait any longer. I think that we are also veterans, but of education. That is the reason why we came with tents and plan to officially register the protest when there are more than 20 of us, as required by the law”, said Dorotea.

A few minutes after they set up the tent, four police officers appeared, called by a security guard from the building. “They asked us who we were and who sent us here. We do not plan to leave because we have a right to protest here”, said Dorotea, adding that police was just carrying out their duties.

The Ministry of Education promised two weeks ago to re-check the data on all students who appealed after scholarship competition was closed.. And there are about 500 such students. About 11,000 students submitted their applications, and the Ministry has so far accepted only 89 complaints.

In early May, some students claimed there were mistakes done in calculating classification points. Education Minister Predrag Šustar apologized to all students and announced a review of all the complaints. Although some scholarships have been paid, the verification process has not yet been completed, and students claim that in the last few days nobody is answering the phones at the Ministry.