Cyrillic script and language of Serbs in Croatia
The Serb National Council encourages the use of Cyrillic script and the development of language of Serbs in Croatia by analysing, proposing and monitoring the implementation of language policies, through media campaigns, scientific and expert publications and discussions, by empowering speakers and producing content that might be of interest to citizens, both in the minority and dominant context (forums, round table events), as well as through initiatives in minority and mainstream education.
Within the Archive of Serbs in Croatia, language policies are researched in the context of wider economic, political, and other societal changes and transformations to gain insight into how language functions as a constituent component of interethnic relations. Apart from the process of standardisation, the Archive of Serbs in Croatia is focused on studying the language of Serbs in Croatia and its relationship with the standard Serb and Croatian languages. It also follows tendencies in various local contexts from Eastern Slavonia to Lika, Banija, Kordun and Dalmatia.
The Serb National Council supports (both institutionally and outside institutions) teaching Serb standard language and Cyrillic script, but also efforts to raise awareness of and develop the language of Serbs in Croatia with an analytical and investigative view of classes of Serb language and literature (models A and B), Serb language and culture (model C) and innovations and experimental programs with support to summer schools and additional forms of education carried out by the Council of Serb National Minority of Zagreb and the SKD “Prosvjeta”.
In 2019, we conducted a media campaign “So that we could better understand each other” with the goal to promote Cyrillic script and remove the stigma from its active use in the public space.
In Croatia, the right to education in the Serb language and Cyrillic script is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, Constitutional Law on Rights of National Minorities, the Law on Education in Languages and Script of National Minorities and by international documents such as the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages which the Republic of Croatia had ratified back in 1998.
Education in the Serb language and Cyrillic script faces a number of difficulties which affect all aspects of the educational system; some of them are more recent and others have been unresolved since the end of the war – mostly conditioned by the social, economic and political context. The Serb National Council participates in all segments of promoting and advocating for education in Serb language and Cyrillic script, in analysing legal documents, working out strategic and advocacy plans, analysing curricula and textbooks, coordinating the work of Serb institutions with the Ministry of Science and Education and the Agency for Education, as well as documenting needs from the field in cooperation with external researchers and experts, other Serb and minority institutions and a number of non-government associations (in the context of GOOD initiative).
In research and analytical part of the Education Program the SNV is focused on:
- Researching the forms and direction of the current concept of education in the Serb language and in Cyrillic script
- Designing and creating educational policies, programs, and teaching materials, based on most recent scientific and expert knowledge
Along with work on promoting minority and mainstream education, the Program of Education is also focused on contribution to experimental programs and innovations in education. Among other things, the SNV took an active part in the project Intercultural School Danube in Vukovar, which was initiated by the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education. In this project, the SNV contributed to creating a concept and producing curriculum of humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on intercultural language teaching.
Contact in Education
The right to education in minority languages and scripts refers to all levels of education – from pre-school to high education. National educational standard recognizes three models of education in minority languages and scripts in primary and secondary schools in the Republic of Croatia.
- Model A, where all classes are taught in the Serb language, with the exception of the Croatian language and literature, which is taught in the equal number of school hours as the classes in Serb language and literature
- Model B where classes of social-humanities subjects are taught in the Serb language and Cyrillic script, while classes of science are taught in the Croatian language and in Cyrillic script
- Model C where classes are taught predominantly in the Croatian language and Latin script with 2 — 5 integrated hours of separate subject called Serb language and culture, with contents from history, geography and language and literature with media culture, as well as contents from music and art related to life and activity of Serbs in Croatia
Besides the models of education carried out as part of institutional education, there are special forms of education in minority languages and scripts, correspondence-consultative classes and winter and summer school, and for Roma minority there are special programs of inclusion into the educational system.
In September 2019, the curriculum was adopted for the subject Serb language and culture in the model C.
In the model C, classes are still taught in big and mostly combined classes, mainly in rural and economically less developed areas where children do not have all basic material and technological conditions for work.
Model C as a separate school subject should encompass humanities content from history and minority culture taken from six school subjects (Geography, History, Nature and Society, Music and Art education), which has yet to become well streamlined and integrated into the system. In the models A and B, these contents should be integrated in classes of separate subjects, but a curriculum that would allow and regulate this integration, along with the preparation of accompanying materials, has not been devised yet.
In model A, one of the problems is registration of minority schools. In the area of Vukovar-Srijem County, it is requested that rights of founding schools be transferred from counties to municipalities or towns in order to preserve programs in the Serb language and Cyrillic script.