In Republika Srpska un sistema scolastico tra nuove aperture e resistenze all'integrazione in un unico sistema bosniaco. Un nuovo approfondimento che va ad integrare il dossier "Scuola nei Balcani". Testo in lingua inglese.
The school is one of the main foundations of every society and country. Therefore, it is the right of every country with a good schooling system to be proud of it, because it is the basis for a better future and a mirror of the knowledge and capability of its citizens. Today, we cannot imagine a young person who has not finished primary or secondary school, or even some "craft", as our people use to say. What kinds of schools have been finished in Republic of Srpska lately?
Whether we talk about primary, secondary or university education, the situation is similar. From 1992 until the end of the war in 1995, schooling was mandatory in the state. When it was formed, RS needed to have all the relevant institutions, including a school system. The facilities and some of the personnel were inherited from the former system. What is characteristic of all of BiH, is that schooling developed in accordance with territorial control. In the area controlled by RS military, the teachers and professors who worked in the schools were exclusively of Serbian nationality. Although we could find teachers who were of another nationality, it was very rare. The plan and program of education were taken from the Federative Republic Yugoslavia, or in other words from the Republic of Serbia, as the mother of Serbian intellect and culture. The pupils learned the Cyrillic alphabet while Latin was taught only in third grade. The parliament replaced Bosnian with the Serbian language. The school was in a state of constant danger, but it was still maintained. The best way to exemplify the conditions of the schools is to mention the fact that 70 % of them in BiH were destroyed in war. This meant that the schools were often direct or indirect grenade targets or they served as temporary shelters for refugees or soldiers. A very low level of school quality was able to reach only those towns which were distant from the front war lines. If we truly observe - school could not be finished by anyone who started it.
During the war, especially characteristic was the situation concerning university education. Because of the regulations of war, all who registered in faculties and colleges were free from military service, so it was hard to imagine how many of them actually enrolled for university education. The biggest problem was in the corruption of university personnel. It often happened that enrolled pupils hardly even finished secondary school. It was never proved, but the public secret was that it was possible to buy a diploma for certain amount of money. So, even today in our community there are lawyers, economists, engineers, and even doctors who were never in school. It has been mentioned a few times that all certificates awarded during the war, or soon after, would be revised, but that never happened. If someone were to ask the question- How was the schooling in RS? - the answer could be just one word - CHAOTIC.
After the war, education in BiH was under constant political pressure. International organizations tried to place schooling, just as every other segment of public and social life, into a unique framework. Still, six years after the war, all three nations attending the same classes is top-news. The office of the High Representative announced that in relation to the past few years the situation has improved. Therefore, there were fewer cases in which "one" didn't allow the "others" to go to the same class or stay in the same building. Even bigger news in RS was that in the new teaching program the plan was now to study the Latin alphabet in the second instead of the third grade of primary school.
In May 1999, the department ministers from both entities, Nenad Suzic , Fahrudin Rizvanbegovic and a deputy of the Federal minister Ivo Mijo Jovic, signed an agreement regarding a unique system of education. The agreement stated clearly " that all existing forms of segregation should be removed from the parallel system of education in FBIH and RS. The coordination in the purpose of alleviation of return would be insured". It was stated that, " mutual elements which enable inter-cultural understanding and communication have to be stressed and represented in all teaching plans and with appropriate books. The measures which should be undertaken in all countries include the learning of the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet, the mutual literature and culture of all the three parts, and also all three world religions which are present in BIH". Teaching plans and books for national subjects have to be related to BiH. All diplomas and certificates have to be acknowledged and accepted in the country, so that the mobility of students, teachers, instructors and other workers could be provided. This was stated in the agreement, which was signed in the presence of the deputy of High Representative in BIH, Matei Hoffman.
However, only two months later the signatories had "arguments" because of its disobedience. Some of them even declared that the agreement was signed illegally. That was reason enough to not begin teaching both the alphabets, the literature, history, and religion of the two other nationalities at the beginning of the new school year in BIH. On the question of WHY, the deputy of the minister in the Federal government, Ivo Mijo Jovic, answered that "it is not pedagogic that the children, before the fourth grade of primary school, study another alphabet, and even so it shouldn't last more than one term". He commented on the use of the two alphabets that the International Community wanted to enforce from the beginning. He asked, for example, if a biology book should be printed in two different alphabets - a few pages in Cyrillic and a few in Latin? His colleague from the RS did not see any reason why 20 of the 150 hours of study should be spent studying Bosnian or Croatian writers. Writers of Serbian nationality are strictly taught in RS, while those taught in Croatia are Croats and those in Bosnia- Muslim. The International Community stated that three programs in BiH were at least 30 years behind Europe and that the schooling was not coordinated with European standards. In response to this, the minister's office stated, "A huge number of people from BiH went into the world and no one complained that their education was bad or that they were not hard workers".
While the situation remained as it was, the children from BiH were studying, and still do, from three groups of books: books from FBIH printed in 1994, where Muslims have majority; RS imported books from Yugoslavia and Croatia, which are used in so called Herzeg-Bosnia. Two years ago an agreement was signed in which, last school year books from Yugoslavia and Croatia should be removed. For those written in BIH there was a removal of ironic and scientifically unproven facts and remarks from national subjects, such as history, language, and geography. Only one part of the job has been finished. The pupils in the fifth grade in primary school learned foreign language, mathematics, art and biology from the Serbian books. The Serbian part of Sarajevo printed geography, technical education, musical culture and Serbian language books. In Banja Luka, an Orthodox religion book was printed. The office of the High Representative accepted the explanations and agreed to a compromise. OHR agreed that imported books should be in use, but with some extra cost. The explanation from OHR was "it is a huge number of books and there is no money for printing new ones while we are reconciling the plan and program. With them it would be impossible to maintain the school" The children, as usual, have not been asked anything, but they can see and feel that something is wrong.
If we compare the system of education for average children to that of handicapped children the problem is much worse for the handicapped children. It is very embarrassing to call it a problem. We can find the best example of that situation in news announced a few days ago on 5th October 2001: "A small percentage of parents of handicapped children, pupils, and representatives of non-government organization from Srebrenica and Bratunac have participated today in a quiet protest in Srebrenica asking that handicapped children be included in the educational process. The organizer of this protest was the Association of Parents of Handicapped Children "Butterfly." The reason for organizing this protest during the International Week of the Child was because 9 out of 25 handicapped children from Srebrenica did not go to school though they were old enough to go. A few of them were already too old, but they were never in school and only 4 of them went to special school in Uzice because their parents provided for that. Although the parents tried, a department for special education in Srebrenica's primary school was still not opened.
Due to the media, the impression received was that when the communists left, the role of the church radically changed. This was not completely correct. Since the middle of the century when there were no "things or actions, which were not in connection with Christ and church", the importance of religion ceased in European society. There was no pure "European model". The cultural differences and the power of church conditioned the way in which children were taught important facts. At the beginning of the war, in primary school programs in RS, the subject of religion was brought in. In RS, in accordance with the law, only the orthodox religion was being taught. This subject was not compulsory for children who were not Christian orthodox. Also, these classes were for only one major part of the inhabitants. It was regulated that in schools where a certain number of pupils were of a different nationality, there should be a course offered on their religion. Examples include two local schools in Prnjavor where the local bishop taught this subject for the Croat children. Religion was introduced in schools as a subject, which should be taught from the first to eighth grade of primary school. It was like that until the beginning of the 2000/2001 school year, in which the plan was to study a new subject called "Culture of Religions". It was supposed to be brought in, in the eighth grade instead of the religion subject, leaving religion to be taught only until the seventh grade. This new subject would include the other religions in the territory of BiH. Because of the lack of reconciliation between plan and program, this project was not carried out. The pupils from the eighth grade would continue to have religion in school.