Anti-Darwin minister in Serbia resigns


SERBIA: Serbian Education Minister Ms Ljiljana Colic resigned yesterday after provoking ridicule as the "medieval minister" for proposing that creationism be taught in schools and warning against computers.

Ms Colic deeply embarrassed the government last week by announcing casually in a newspaper interview that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution would no longer be taught in schools until Old Testament creationism got equal time.

Subsequent media reports said she had also argued against compulsory teaching of foreign languages on grounds of cost, and warned that computer education should not be compulsory because radiation from screens was bad for children's health.

"Liljana Colic informed Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica about the work of her ministry and the problems she was facing," said a government statement quoted by the Beta news agency.

"Some of those problems started to reflect on the work of the entire government, therefore Minister Colic informed the prime minister that she had decided to resign."

Ms Colic had also said the shift from teaching evolution theory was going to be "my mark" on Serbian education.

She also asserted, without offering evidence, that many other countries insisted on classroom equality for Darwin's theory of evolution and creationism - the belief that mankind and the universe is the act of the creator God.

Mr Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) - of which Ms Colic is a founding member - has headed a minority coalition of four centre-right parties since March. Her resignation was the first from Mr Kostunica's cabinet but was not expected to have a significant impact on his government.

In an initial response last week to the expressions of outrage Ms Colic provoked from teachers and parents, Mr Kostunica said the issue was "overblown".

But as the row refused to die down, he called the minister aside last Thursday, raising speculation that her days were numbered.

Politically-minded Serbs said it was remarkable how attuned today's government was to public pressure, compared with the socialist autocracies of the past which would have brooked no interference in cabinet affairs.