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news 30 Oct 13

Bosniak School Protest Swells in Sarajevo

Parents and pupils from Vrbanjci, near Kotor Varos, have joined locals from Konjevic Polje, protesting in Sarajevo over the rights of Bosniak pupils in the Republika Srpska.

Elvira M. Jukic

After three weeks of conducting a sleep-in protest in front of the Office of the High Representative, OHR, in Sarajevo, Bosniak parents from the village of Konjevic Polje have been joined by locals from Vrbanjci, a village near Kotor Varos, who say they have the same problem with their school.

The protesters want their children to be taught key elements of the school curriculum in Bosnian, not Serbian.

Parents from Vrbanjci, who have not sent their children to school for almost two months, said they were being threatened with penalties bcause primary education is obligatory.

“As for these threats, there are no higher sanctions for us than our children not having the right to education in their own language,” Nedzad Smajlovic, a protester from Vrbanjci, said.

Three different school curricula are currently in use in Bosnia, one in Republika Srpska, implemented at entity level, and two in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, implemented at the level of the entity's cantons.

While maths, chemistry and biology are taught the same way throughout the country, the differences are in the teaching of the five so-called "national" subjects - history, geography, religion, mother tongue and literature, and nature and society.

Some protesters said the OHR had told them it would put more pressure on the Education Ministry in the mainly Serb entity to engage itself more in solving the problem.

But the OHR told Balkan Insight on Tuesday that the key to a solution lay in the parents re-starting talks with the minister, Goran Mutabdzija.

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