News 16 Sep 16

Sarajevo Parents Worried by ‘Wartime Aggression’ Lessons

Parents expressed concerns after the Sarajevo Canton prime minister announced that children will be taught about war crimes and other atrocities committed in the city during the 1990s conflict.

Ajla Gezo
Isak Samokovlija Elementary School in Sarajevo. Photo: Education Ministry.

Parents complained that they had not been consulted after Sarajevo Canton Prime Minister Dino Konakovic announced just before the start of the new school year that schoolchildren will be taught about “the aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina” and crimes committed during the war.

“We will raise the children to love their neighbours and yet to know the difference between celebrating Novak Djokovic and Radovan Karadzic. They should know to celebrate with Novak and be wary of those celebrating Karadzic,” said Konakovic.

But Ornela Colic, a parent whose daughter started the first grade last week, told BIRN that she is concerned.

“I am freaked out that two or three days before the school they introduced new things. The worst of these is that they plan to teach kids about the war and I honestly don’t trust them to do this,” said Colic.

“They reach these decisions without asking or consulting parents. I have taken my kid to the War Childhood Museum and tried to ease her way into this reality that there was a war and that children lived throughout this war. I tried to be very careful and I am worried who will teach my children about these horrible things, war crimes or genocide,” said Colic.

Currently, the war is not being taught to schoolchildren in Bosnia and Herzegovina because a common curriculum cannot be agreed between the former warring parties.

There was also a lack of clarity about how Konakovic’s plan would be implemented in practice.

Mirsada Jaganjac, the director of the Isak Samokovlija Elementary School, told BIRN that she did not know what changes would be made to the history textbooks.

“I haven’t heard what the actual changes will be like. But I would caution everyone to be careful. We do not want to offend anyone and these are sensitive topics,” said Jaganjac.

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