|The divine comedy
Ljiljana Čolić (1956–) is an Orthodox Christian professor of Ottoman language and paleography at the University of Belgrade, and is a guest professor at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Priština. Čolić holds a graduate degree in philosophy and a Ph.D. in philology. Čolić is one of the founders of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and was a deputy in Serbia's Federal Parliament. She is also a young Earth creationist.
Čolić became the subject of international attention during her brief career as the Serbian Minister for Education and Sport. Čolić's career as minister came to an end after she attempted to ban the teaching of the theory of evolution in Serbia's schools until creationism was given equal weight. This move did not quite go as planned and Čolić resigned her position shortly after the ban was reversed by Serbia's Prime Minister.
“”It is normal that a minister's personality leaves a mark. This is my mark and time will tell if I was right.
When Čolić took over as education minister in March 2004, she suspended the previous government's educational reforms. These reforms had been implemented in order to synchronize Serbia's horribly outdated and underfunded schooling system with the rest of Europe, so of course they had to be immediately stopped!
Čolić suspended the teaching of English in 1st grade (it would instead be taught starting in 5th grade), resulting in hundreds of English teachers losing their jobs. In place of the foreign language, Čolić instituted mandatory religious teachings. This move drew criticism from teachers and educators who lamented, ”without English, there is no entrance into the modern world of knowledge”.
Čolić also proposed reform which would ban computer science from schools for alleged health reasons, saying that she was concerned children could be negatively affected by years of radiation from computer monitors.
In September 2004, Čolić set off a powder keg of outrage when she sent out a decree to the Serbian school system in which she claimed the theory of evolution was "full of voids" and would no longer be taught in their 8th grade biology curriculum. Čolić did not intend the ban to be permanent; no, she planned to change the curriculum so that creationism would be taught alongside evolution. She thought evolution and creationism existed "side by side and legitimately throughout the world". Čolić believed evolution to be an "unconfirmed theory" and claimed it was equally as dogmatic as creationism.
After suffering two days of international outrage and mockery along with "unprecedented" public outcry in Serbia, Serbia's Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica stepped in and reversed Čolić's decree. In a move that surprised no one, Čolić resigned as minister on September 16th, with the official reason being due to "problems that had started to reflect on the work of the entire government".
Čolić had boasted that the ban on evolution would be her "mark" on education as minister, but in the end the only mark she made was the scuffing of her shoes as the Serbian government showed her the door.
Čolić's Path Post-Minister
After her resignation, Čolić appeared regularly in lectures organized by Srpski sabor Dveri, a Religious Right Serbian political party. In 2006, Čolić published a book titled Put (translated: Path) in which she defended her actions as education minister.
- The Telegraph "Darwin is off the curriculum for Serbian schools"
- Inter Press Service"Darwin Survives, After All"
- Ozračeni Darvin (in Serbian)
- BBC "Serb schools told to drop Darwin"
- Chronology of the Evolution-Creationism Controversy
- [Čolić, in an interview with the Glas Javnosti
- Hellenic Resources Network"SERBIA RETURNS DARWIN TO THE CLASSROOMS"
- Popular Science "Darwin Is Dead. Long live Darwin."
- BBC "'Anti-Darwin' Serb minister quits"
- Irish Times "Anti-Darwin minister in Serbia resigns"