Serbian Parents in Dark over Vast Education Sector Database

"Data, for which we don't know how it will serve us before we even collect it, is data that we shouldn't process," Ruzic told BIRN. "Data that we have collected in order to do some analysis, and we do not do that, or we do not make decisions on the basis of those analyses, is data that we should delete, because it is obvious that we do not need it."

Commissioner's concerns

Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, launching the Unified Education Information System on March 16, 2022. Photo: Government of Serbia

Under the Law on Education, the purpose of the new data collection is to ensure management efficiency, the monitoring and improvement of the work of institutions, better use of resources and statistical analysis.

The Unique Information System, it says, is connected to a host of other data held by authorities, including data on employment, insurance, and income tax.

The system was developed by Comtrade System Integration and Saga d.o.o. after they won a 1.7 million-euro public tender in 2019. The developers did not respond to a request for comment.

But even before the system was in place, Serbia's Commissioner for Personal Data Protection was worried, according to correspondence obtained by BIRN via a Freedom of Information request.

In 2017, responding to draft legal amendments to create the database, the Office of the Commissioner expressed alarm at what it said would be "one of the most extensive databases of personal data in Serbia".

"It is unacceptable to consolidate a large number of small databases and create one enormous database simply for the processing of data into statistics and for analytical purposes," the Office wrote.

The unavoidable conclusion, it said, is...

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