Joke about Communist-Era Youth Day Causes Stir
The Education Ministry has sent a circular to schools and kindergartens reminding them that glorification of totalitarian regimes was unconstitutional after a media report suggested that the teacher' union was holding an event in front of a school to mark Communist-era Youth Day. The union says it was all just a joke.
Youth Day is associated with the cult of personality of Communist leader Josip Broz Tito. Observed on 25 May, it was also celebrated as Tito's birthday with a big ceremony in Belgrade at which Tito was presented a baton containing a birthday message that had passed through all major cities of the former federation.
The news and gossip site Pozareport.si reported that the "relay of youth", as the ceremonial passing of the baton was called, was to be held in front of a primary school in Ptuj today as part of an annual assembly of local teachers' union.
Head of the Primary Education Directorate Alen Kofol responded with a circular in which he urged schools and kindergartens to respect the Constitution and constitutional values.
He referred to the Constitutional Court's ruling of October 2011 that annulled the Ljubljana City Council's decision to name a street after Tito on grounds that Tito was a symbol of a totalitarian regime and that any institutional glorification of such undemocratic regime was unconstitutional.
Head of the trade union of employees in education, science and culture (SVIZ) Branimir Štrukelj explained that the circular was responding to a "harmless joke" by one of more than 860 unions within SVIZ which was not coordinated with any other union.
Since the annual assembly of the local union coincided with former Youth Day, the invitation bore Tito's picture with a witty comment referring to past times, while one of the teachers seems to have sent the invitation to Pozarreport.si, Štrukelj said, adding that the meeting had been cancelled.
The report about the alleged Youth Day ceremony was also denied by the headmaster of the school where the event was to be held, Bogomir Širovnik, who said that someone had connected the invitation to the annual assembly of the local SVIZ union with an e-mail whose author reminisced on Youth Day.
Širovnik said the publication of the document was a manipulation so that the school and the trade union were considering legal steps in response to the damage done to their reputation.
Štrukelj slammed the Education Ministry's circular as "trying to make an act of hate out of nothing" and attributing to SVIZ secret organisation of "an attempt at a revolution and a return to the Communist era".
The fact that the ministry "makes a drama out of this thing" speaks of its "lack of reflection or even some subconscious desire to make up an enemy, devil that only exists in their heads".
A response also came from the Association of Primary and Music Education, which said that Youth Day had not been observed at schools for many years, and that it had no information of any such ceremony taking place.