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18 Feb 10

Bosnia: No End to 'Two Schools Under One Roof'

Despite a request for changes by the parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina will still have “two schools under one roof” next year.

The term “two schools under one roof” refers to the system developed after the war in which children in a single school are physically separated by ethnic group and learn from different curriculums.

The system is mainly found in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the region with a predominantly Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Croat population.

Students usually go to school in different shifts according to their ethnicity, but in some cases children acutally enter the school via two separate doors and are physically divided during school hours.

In the Federation there are currently 57 schools which operate in this way.

The region's parliament requested on February 16 that cantonal ministries of education end the practice, but according to media in Sarajevo changes are unlikely to be enacted even next year.

Education in the Federation, one of the two entities which make up Bosnia and Herzegovina, falls under the jurisdiction of the 10 cantonal ministries of education. In Republika Srpska, the other entity, education is handled by the entity-level education ministry. 

Esad Dzelilovic, the minister of education in the Hercegovina-Neretva Canton, told daily Nezavisne Novine that the situation is not as alarming “as it may seem”.

He proposes a system of education that puts children together for most classes, but separates them during classes which deal with “national subjects”, including language, geography and history.  This system is already implemented in the District of Brcko, which is a small self-governing territory in the country.

Greta Kuna, the minister of education in the Middle Bosnia Canton, said that the system of "two schools under one roof" was a reality but that her ministry has a plan to deal with it in future.

“We plan to separate these schools by building new schools so we will no longer have two schools under one roof, but rather each group will have its own school,” she said.

Ivo Miro Jovic, a member of the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, sees no problem in the fact that Bosnia has this system of segregation in elementary schools.

“It is not as if the phenomenon develops from the first grade, but rather from early childhood. Man is who he is; he is raised in his family where he develops feelings of belonging and nobody should be against incorporating that kind of attitude in the school curriculum,” Jovic told Radio Free Europe in Sarajevo.

Two schools under one roof is a post war phenomenon in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the part of the country where the Bosnian army fought against the Croat army. The concept was created in order to “help” refugee return. In the past several years, laws have attempted to abolish the system, but in practice it continues as before.

In Republika Srpska this phenomenon does not exist. The curriculum in the Serb-dominated entity is different from those used in the Federation.

The Dayton peace agreement that ended the war in 1995 divided the country into two entitities and the District of Brcko.

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