Public Defender Echoes Recent Media Reports (about Annual Report)

Recently, purposeful distortion of the assessments and problems depicted in the chapter on religious freedom of the Public Defender's annual report has acquired a systematic nature. In particular, according to media reports, the Public Defender demands ban of school tours to churches, which is not true.

In his annual parliamentary reports the Public Defender has been talking about the violation of the requirements of the law on General Education in public schools for years, which in some cases is reflected in starting lessons with prayers, arrangement of religious corners for non-academic purposes, invitation of the clergy to schools and consecration of classrooms and schools by them, engagement of students in religious rituals, unequal treatment of students of different religious faiths by teachers, etc. Such cases are at odds with the principles of the law on General Education, which separates public schools and religious organizations from each other. The law requires public schools to stay neutral and says that the state shall ensure the independence of religious organizations from public schools. The law prohibits the use of the learning process for religious purposes, exhibition of religious symbols for non-academic purposes, engagement of students in religious rites, etc.

The 2015 report, like the reports of previous years, includes a chapter about the situation in public schools. The report does not speak about excursions of the students at all, including to historical monuments and religious buildings. Of course, schools have the right to plan tours to religious sites and provide students with information related to the history and culture, with the observance of the principle of religious neutrality.

The Public Defender‘s annual report emphasizes that observance of equality and religious neutrality in public schools, as well as of the requirements of the law is the most important issue. The Public Defender addressed the Ministry of Education of Science with an appropriate recommendation.

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