[lg policy] Bosnian Students Unite Against Ethnically Divided Schools

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Jun 28 15:34:41 EDT 2017


On Jun 28, 2017 2:42 PM, "Fierman, William" <wfierman at indiana.edu> wrote:

>
>
> Bosnian Students Unite Against Ethnically Divided Schools
>
> June 24, 2017 17:53 GMT
>
> https://www.rferl.org/a/bosnian-students-unite-against-ethnically-divided-
> schools/28577080.html
>
>     Alan Crosby
>
>
>
> High school students from Jajce and other Bosnian cities protest in front
> of the government building in Travnik against segregation of their schools
> on June 20, 2017.
>
> High school students from Jajce and other Bosnian cities protest in front
> of the government building in Travnik against segregation of their schools
> on June 20, 2017.
>
> Share
>
>
>
> One down, 57 to go.
>
>
>
> That's the scorecard students in the town of Jajce in Bosnia-Herzegovina
> held after their protests pushed the government to drop plans to force them
> into an ethnically divided school after a year-long campaign.
>
>
>
> Flush with that success, the students have vowed to continue their
> struggle against segregation in 57 other schools, claiming the system
> fosters ethnic tensions from an early age.
>
>
>
> "We want quality education, not division," said Faruk Gutic, a member of
> the Association of High School Students of Bosnia and Herzegovina. "We want
> to work. Don't let us fall back to 20 years in the past."
>
>
>
> Separating students within the same building along ethnic lines to learn
> curriculums in Bosnian, Serbian, or Croatian came about following the
> Balkan war of the 1990s, which was sparked by a wave of nationalism that
> swept through the country during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
>
> Student protesters in Travnik
>
> Student protesters in Travnik
>
>
>
> It's now more than 20 years after the brutal war that pitted Bosnian
> Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims, or Bosniaks, against each other, but
> reconciliation has been slow.
>
>
>
> Pock-marked walls, riddled with bullets from the 1992-95 conflict that
> left almost 100,000 dead and displaced more than 2 million people, are a
> constant reminder of how deep the schism between Bosnia's three main ethnic
> groups is.
>
>
>
> Interethnic tensions still run high in the country and the political
> discourse, including in the media, includes the frequent use of hate
> speech. Short-term solutions that were put in place to calm tensions after
> the war remain, as do many Bosniak, Croat, and Serb nationalist parties
> that derive their power from mutual distrust.
>
>
>
> One of those solutions was the so-called "two schools under one roof"
> policy.
>
>
>
> Many displaced Bosnians didn't want to reintegrate into communities where
> they might be neighbors with those who opposed them during the war. As a
> compromise to complete segregation, some schools were set up with two
> different systems under the same roof.
>
>
>
> The practice allows separate school boards to develop specific curriculums
> taught by teachers from their own ethnic group. While the buildings are
> shared, some have students go to school in different shifts, while in
> others children actually enter the building via separate entrances.
>
>
>
> Croat and Bosniak kids even use different toilets.
>
> Bosnian students from Jajce protesting in Travnik.
>
> Bosnian students from Jajce protesting in Travnik.
>
>
>
> "I think the children and their parents are hostage to an unscrupulous
> political game, and we will only see the consequences of this in 10 or 15
> years," a former Jajce student and activist, Samir Beharic, said last year.
>
>
>
> The system remains even though the Federation Constitutional Court ruled
> in 2014 that it is discriminatory and the United States and international
> agencies such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
> have voiced their opposition to the practice.
>
>
>
> "Ending all forms of ethnic segregation in schools is probably one of the
> most important tasks for Bosnia and Herzegovina," European Commission
> against Racism and Intolerance Chairman Christian Ahlund said in a recent
> report on the practice.
>
>
>
> "It is absolutely vital in order to build an inclusive society and to
> spare future generations the curse of ethnic divisionism and hatred," he
> added.
>
>
>
> Ambassador Jonathan Moore, the head of the OSCE's mission to Bosnia,
> congratulated the students in a tweet following their victory.
>
>
>
> "Congratulations to the secondary school graduates in #Jajce and thanks
> for seeking #QualityEducation," he wrote.
>
>
>
> Student protests have echoed the sentiments of Western institutions
> opposed to the practice.
>
>
>
> In a recent demonstration, some held signs reading: "Segregation is a bad
> investment." Others read: "We are here to create the future, not to repeat
> the past."
>
>
>
> Education Minister Katica Cerkez acknowledged the problem when she met
> with students recently, but cautioned that change would take time and
> patience.
>
>
>
> "The initiative by the students is understandable, but they are
> highlighting a problem facing the entire Bosnia-Herzegovina and it can't be
> solved in a few quick steps," she said.
>
>
>
> "This is a deep problem in our society and it is defined by the
> constitution and our laws," Cerkez added.
>
>
>
> Dennis Gratz, a federal lawmaker from Sarajevo, went a step further and on
> June 20 proposed a law to ban segregation in schools.
>
>
>
> "This is a rule that will unequivocally determine that every form of
> physical division of persons, especially students and professors during
> classes, extracurricular activities, and breaks, is segregation and
> discrimination, and that the federation has the competencies and the duty
> to ban such a practice -- not from the perspective of education, but out of
> a duty to protect human rights and civic freedoms," Gratz said.
>
>
>
> That does little to quell the dissent from inside the student body.
>
>
>
> Student leaders, spurred by their first taste of success, said they are
> going to press on in other parts of the country to stop the practice.
>
>
>
> "We don't hate each other and the fact that politicians are trying to
> instill this hatred in us is wrong," said Adnan Brajamovic, a student from
> Sarajevo.
>
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