Montenegro has recently seen calls from multiple organizations—UNICEF, UNESCO, and The World Bank—to better its education system and improve education for girls. Although universal enrollment in Montenegro is 97 percent, the dropout rate from primary schools is high. About 13 percent of women in Montenegro have not completed primary school, and about 6.4 percent of women do not have any education. In addition, the illiteracy rate in Montenegro is higher for women (3.4 percent in comparison to 2.35 percent for men). Overall, only 50 percent of students are proficient in less than 30 percent of essential knowledge.
Gender Inequality in Montenegro
In a recent report, UNICEF deemed schools in Montenegro as “non-girl-friendly” and claimed this was a major factor in the impediment of girls’ education in Montenegro. Moreover, UNESCO’s 2011 report on education in Montenegro saw that teaching methods were severely outdated and teachers often used intimidation tactics. Finally, discrimination against girls, particularly in schools across Montenegro, was 80 percent higher than against boys.
These discrepancies have caused an imbalance in the work force, though it is not completely one-sided. Only 52 percent of females, compared to 66 percent of men, participate in the labor force. The major disparities of gender is in parliament and other positions of power. In parliament, as of 2015, only 17 percent of seats are held by women. In 2013, only 24 percent of firms saw female ownership. And in 2012, only 12 percent of females, compared to the 22 percent of males, were self-employed. There has been much backlash to these statistics, and many organizations have taken direct action to improve girls’ education in Montenegro.
The Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education and Science of Montenegro, the main policy making body for education and sports in Montenegro, has received support from said organizations—UNICEF and UNESCO mainly. This support is to ensure that basic learning needs are met and sustained of all children regardless of their ethnic background, social class, and especially gender.
Though the country has a National Plan of Action towards girls’ education in Montenegro, UNICEF’s annual report of 2016 found that the country is now more focused on the second decade of life and ending violence against women. In 2015, Montenegro’s prime minister stated that the country was committed to increasing attendance and expanding preschool coverage. The Minister of Education, in 2017, reiterated this same focus to UNICEF. The now disbanded Ministry of Education and Science’s publication of a “Comprehensive Evaluation of Primary Education in Yugoslavia” is, nevertheless, still being used as an outline for education reform, as is the World Bank’s emphasis on active learning in young children and a life-skills education in later years.
Though the country has moved away from focusing on girls’ education, the calls for reform have nonetheless been consistent. Montenegro has changed its focus in the past decade from gender-based education reform, to improvement of school systems, to now expanding their preschools and their enrollment. Girls’ education in Montenegro, while in need of alteration, has found itself stuck under the larger issues of migration, poverty and an overall lacking education system. Thus, change has yet to be seen.
– Isabella Agostini