On Wednesday 3rd of May 2023, a 13-year-old boy opened fire on his fellow students, killing 9 people and injuring several other classmates in Vladislav Ribnikar Elementary School in Belgrade - Serbia.
As OBESSU we express our deepest solidarity with the families of the victims and with all the Serbian community, including our Member Organisation UNSS.
The intensity of this tragedy makes us reflect on the state of education and its public importance. Having noticed the ever escalating violence in public discourse as well as other societal challenges, we hold it that this event cannot be regarded as an isolated case. We join UNSS in the claims that the undermining of the importance of education and educators, prevalence of hostile and combative language in public conversations, and constant exposure to crude attitudes in nationally broadcasted media contributed to these outcomes.
We join UNSS on their demands towards the creation of safe conditions for the upbringing of children and students that include:
- concrete measures in the field of accessible mental health support for students, teachers and parents;
- strengthening the essential cooperation between parents and teachers;
- control of the media content that abounds with violence and promotes hate speech;
- the launch of a national consultative process on the future of education in Serbia;
- returning the focus to education as a priority for the development of society.
Following the resignation of the minister of education, we hope that this can open the public discourse that will lead to changing the narrative around education and educational spaces and approach it as an holistic and fundamental pillar of the society.
Read the press release of our members Unija srednjoškolaca Srbije here and follow the developments on their channels.