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news 06 Sep 13

Bosniak Parents in Serb Entity Boycott Schools

Bosniak children in two villages in Republika Srpska did not start school this Monday as their parents are boycotting the schools, demanding the teaching of so-called 'national' subjects.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Parents of Bosniak children from the villages of Vrbanjci near Kotor Varos and Konjevic Polje near Vlasenica launched a boycott of the start of the school year on Monday.

They are demanding better conditions in the schools and the inclusion of so-called national subjects for Bosniaks in the local education programme.

Three different school curricula are followed in Bosnia, one in Republika Srpska, organized at entity level and two in the Federation, organized at cantonal level.

While Maths, Chemistry and Biology are taught the same way throughout, the difference is over the teaching of the five so-called "national" subjects.

These are History, Geography, Religion, Mother Tongue and Literature and Nature and Society.

An agreement to allow Serbian pupils in the mainly Bosniak and Croat Federation entity and Bosniak and Croat pupils in the mainly Serb entity to have their respective "national" subjects taught is to be discussed at a ministerial meeting at the end of month.

But Goran Mutabdzija, the Education Minister in Republika Srpska, said that even if an agreement was reached at the ministerial meeting, implementation of the deal could only start from next year.

“Teaching plans and personnel issues are determined prior to the beginning of the school year and cannot be changed afterwards,” Mutabdzija said.

The daily Oslobodjenje reported that parents from Vrbanjci claimed that they had started complaining at the end of the last school year, in spring this year, hoping for a solution to their demands over the summer, but this it did not happen.

Mutabdzija said that assuring everyone has their own "national" subjects taught wherever they live has to be a matter of agreement in the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Mutabdzija said that the best solution might be to reduce the number of "national" subjects taught to Religion and Mother Tongue because “anything else would lead to [more] segregation and the creation of two schools under one roof, which is unacceptable”.

The Federation Education Minister, Damir Masic, told Balkan Insight that a solution had to be agreed at state level, with all the ministers, including entity and cantonal ones.

Masic said that neither he nor Minister Mutabdzija would decide on the matter, but that experts would do so.

“I am glad that the Republika Srpska Education Ministry realized finally that they cannot look at these problems individually but that they have to be solved at the state level,” Masic added.

In the meanwhile, some parents in Vrbanjci say they may have to send their children to schools in the nearest town in the Federation entity if there is no solution, even if it means additional costs.

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