Montenegro's National Education Council was set up to prepare a new curriculum for the country's students. Apparently plagiarism wasn't one of the lessons in the package of reforms.
The council recently published its long-awaited reforms ahead of the return of students to classes for the upcoming school year.
Within days, several experts from a 500-member panel in neighboring Croatia that had earlier drawn up a curriculum package to update that country's education system recognized many of the changes.
In fact, they said, large parts of their work were plagiarized, some passages word for word, without attribution.
Three members of the council resigned on August 27 and said they would give back their salaries over the matter.
"If any child in the world benefits from our work, that's good. What bothers me is the way it was done, without asking us as the authors, and without asking Croatia, which owns the documents that were taken," said Boris Jokic, the head of the Croatian working group that drew up the reforms, in an interview on N1 television in Croatia on August 29.
Officials in Montenegro have acknowledged the similarities between the two reform packages but said the framework was not its final version and that it borrows from the experiences and practices of several countries.
The Education and Science Ministry, which oversees the council, said on August 22 that it would investigate the claims. Croatia, meanwhile, has said it is consulting with legal experts.
"The authenticity of educational efforts does not exclude the observation of the best experiences of others in order to realize the full potential of all children," Montenegro's Bureau for Education Services said in an August 22 statement.
Ironically, the Croatian plan, drawn up between 2015 and 2016, was pushed to the side amid internal bickering in the cabinet that took power after a snap election in 2016.
Each country is undertaking reforms to overhaul its education system's curriculum and training methods, giving teachers more freedom in classrooms that would become more interactive.