Acting on a request by the ombudsman, the Serbian Education Ministry has instructed publishing companies to change the content of textbooks for eighth-graders that negate the existence of the Bosnia, Croatian and Montenegrin languages.
A Serbian language textbook for eighth-grades by a group of authors says that the South Slavic group of languages consists of Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian and Bulgarian while “Croatians, Bosniaks and some Montenegrins call the Serbian language Croatian, Bosnian, Bosniak or Montenegrin”.
This definition of South Slavic languages is stated in Serbian language textbooks published by all other publishers in Serbia and it reflects the position of the Institute for Serbian Language, which holds that South Slavic languages are Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovenian and Serbian, and that the latter should be accompanied by a note saying that Croatians, Bosniaks and some Montenegrins call it Croatian, Bosnian-Bosniak or Montenegrin.
Acting on a request by Ombudsman Zoran Pasalic, who in January this year requested the withdrawal of the said textbook over violation of ethnic minorities’ rights and negation of their languages, of which Croatian and Serbian are in official use in Serbia, the Education Ministry said it had sent instructions to publishing companies under which the classification of South Slavic languages should be accompanied by a narrative explanation, without a table or a list.
The ministry also requested the publishers to make sure the contentious textbooks that were still on the market included a page with the said correction.
Pasalic's reaction was prompted by the Croatian National Council (HNV) in Serbia, which in October 2021 found out that eighth-graders in Serbia were taught that the Croatian language did not exist.