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The Ministry of Education in Sarajevo Canton does not have a register of accused and convicted persons

In the absence of a criminal registry, a dress code will do

Rubina Čengić

04.05.2023

Ilustracija: Anna Jurkovska / Shutterstock.com

Sarajevo Canton’s Ministry of Education has not established a register of school employees who have been indicted or convicted of crimes, although the Primary Education Act (Article 92, Paragraph 7) requires it.

The Ministry, in accordance with the Law, keeps a register of persons against whom an indictment for criminal offenses has been confirmed, or a legal conviction has been issued due to the commission of one or more criminal offenses (for which a prison sentence of three months or more may be imposed). According to the same Law, primary schools are obliged to make a decision to either suspend those persons from the teaching process until the end of the criminal proceedings, or terminate the employment relationship and inform the Ministry about it in writing.

Saudin Sivro, president of the Independent Union of Primary Education of Sarajevo Canton, confirmed that the Ministry has not established the register, and notes that the Ministry is not doing its job.

The existence of a register of persons against whom criminal proceedings are being conducted, and those who have been sentenced for criminal offenses, is a very important segment of the fight against bribery, corruption and nepotism in education. Unfortunately, none of us knows how many of those people are working in schools. We often hear our virtuous minister, for whom morality is a fluid category, talk futuristically and populistically about a fair society with equal opportunities, forgetting that she was the one who employed “suitable” workers in the Development of Pre-University Education Institute. No one paid a fine because of this, but for many conscious and unconscious lapses, the school principals paid and still pay the fines. No one was responsible for the hundreds of thousands of marks paid by the schools. And with a minister like this, we don't expect anyone to pay them any time soon, Sivro explained. 

Sivro brought up the case from Primary School Hasan Kikić in Sarajevo, from two years ago. The principal of this school, Almir Pleh hid the classes that he planned to assign to chemistry teacher Almasa Torlak in order to supplement her teaching norm. Regardless, she established a permanent employment relationship thanks to the fact that her husband, then-director Asim Torlak, prepared her a contract for an indefinite period of time on the basis of a fixed-term employment call, for which he was convicted.

After the teaching union was contacted by the most famous whistleblower in education in ​​Sarajevo Canton, Hasena Dudo, the inspection acted quickly and issued a fine. There are more, but less interesting cases, says Sivro.

The case of Asim Torlak was also the subject of a parliamentary question in the Sarajevo Canton Assembly, on October 30, 2019. Representative Igor Stojanović asked how it was possible that a person who broke the law and abused his position (the Ministry was ordered to initiate dismissal in 2017) could still work at the school. The Ministry responded that they had no information about the fact that criminal proceedings were being conducted against Torlak.

The members of Sarajevo Canton’s Parent Council say that they are monitoring the situation and that they know of several persons employed in schools that had received verdicts or had gone to trial, but that they are particularly concerned about pedophilia.

After the case in Grbavica I Primary School, when a teacher convicted of pedophilia returned to the school to teach after serving his prison sentence, we now have a case of another teacher, I think from Semizovac. It is again about sexual harassment of a student, but we are not commenting on that because the case is in court proceedings and the man is in custody until a verdict is reached. We repeatedly asked for a way to establish a registry of persons convicted of pedophilia at the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBH) level, and we received promises, but nothing was done — no registry, no records. The minister did note that she will ask for a law on the registers of convicted persons to be adopted at the FBH level so that they cannot enter classrooms, says Elma Dizdarević, president of the Sarajevo Canton Parents' Council. Dizdarević states that, until the register is established, she will write to the Ministry and ask for control of dress codes in schools.

Now we are talking about the Dress Code for students and teachers, the one from 2017 or 2018, which was never applied to the extent it should have been, to be adopted at the cantonal level. We call for it to be the same for everyone, so that students and teachers dress appropriately in order to stop students from drawing attention to themselves and teachers, because it is all connected, and we are dealing with it, says Elma Dizdarević and emphasizes that a new law on primary education is also being prepared in Sarajevo Canton.

The draft says that a person will not be hired if they do not bring a certificate that shows proceedings are not being taken against them; if the Ministry already has a register and does not respect it or does not check it during the employment process –- this is a major failure of the Ministry and the Council of Parents of the CS completely condemns such behavior, points out Elma Dizdarević.

Even after several days and several emails, the Ministry of Education did not answer the following questions and requests:

- has the Ministry created a register of employees in schools against which there are confirmed indictments or verdicts and, if not, why not;

- if the register exists, please send a link to that document;

- if the register exists, how do you collect information and update the data, and how many people were registered in it during the years 2021 and 2022;

- is the Law on Primary Education in the Sarajevo Canton harmonized with the Labor Law and the Criminal Law in regard to sanctions for persons who have a confirmed indictment or pronounced judgment;

- how often do schools in Sarajevo Canton ask for help from the Ministry to resolve dilemmas in cases where they have employees against whom an indictment has been confirmed or a verdict pronounced, how many of them were submitted during 2021 and 2022 and in what way does the Ministry help;

- have the experiences with this element of the legislation been included in the new law and, if so, what are its improvements;

- do you have data on how many schools/principals/teachers were issued fines by the Sarajevo Canton Inspection during 2021 and 2022 and for which violations;

- from which funds those fines are paid;

- have the principals of the penalized schools been sanctioned and, if so, in what way, and if not – why not?

 

In the Sarajevo Canton Directorate for Inspection, the Inspectorate of Educational Inspection issued 113 decisions during 2022: 69 on the elimination of identified deficiencies and 44 warnings. Inspectors in the field of preschool, primary and secondary education issued a total of 92 decisions, of which 60 on the elimination of identified deficiencies and 32 warnings, and inspectors in the field of higher education issued a total of 21 decisions - nine on the elimination of identified deficiencies and 12 warnings. That year, a total of 50 misdemeanor warrants were issued in the amount of 94,850 KM, namely 35 misdemeanor warrants in the area of ​​preschool, primary and secondary education in the total amount of 47,850 KM, while in the field of higher education inspectors issued 15 misdemeanor warrants in the amount from 47,000.00 KM.

In the same year, the Inspectorate of Labor, Safety at Work and Social Protection issued 65 administrative measures (decisions, orders and warnings) and 23 misdemeanor orders in the total amount of 40,020 KM for all levels of education in Sarajevo Canton.

After 294 inspections, the Sanitary and Food Inspection issued 152 decisions on the elimination of deficiencies and 14 misdemeanor orders in the total monetary amount of 26,022.00 KM: 115 decisions on the elimination of deficiencies and four misdemeanor orders in the total monetary amount of 7,000.00 KM in schools; 37 decisions on the elimination of deficiencies and ten misdemeanor orders in the total monetary amount of 19,022.00 KM in private preschool institutions and kindergartens.

Most often, penalties are imposed for enrolling students in the first grade of secondary school contrary to the decision of the CS Government on enrollment criteria; for non-observance of general acts passed in preschool institutions, for teachers due to non-compliance with regulations issued by the minister; for not maintaining pedagogical documentation properly; for the fact that the pre-school institution started operating without being registered in the court register and for not following the rules governing trips, excursions and more, explained the Administration for Inspection Affairs of the CS.

As a reminder, regarding the disputed contract and employment, only Torlak and Primary School Hasan Kikić paid three fines each in the total amount of more than 12,000 KM before the verdict: by order of the Cantonal Labor Inspectorate and the Education Inspectorate and in the misdemeanor proceedings conducted before Municipal Court in Sarajevo.

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