L'introduzione della religione nelle scuole di una delle due entità della Bosnia-Erzegovina è una questione che dovrà fare i conti con la composizione multietnica del paese, ma a quanto pare le difficoltà sono all'ordine del giorno. (testo in inglese)
"Reconciliation", is one of the most used words in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the last six years. Where are we now? No one can give you positive and possible answers, neither the High representative, nor the prime ministers of the entities, other ministers, professors, scientists... One thing is certain, reconciliation is much more difficult to achieve that was thought when the Dayton agreement was signed. When you observe the BIH reality aimed at reconciliation, one contradictory situation is obvious and only the people living in BIH are aware of it. What is it?
The Younger Generation-A Contradiction
The Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, including Bosnia and Herzegovina of course, until the end of the 80-ies was living in brotherhood and unity. It was "popular parol" which kept this creation of the country together. Today, six years after the war, people who grew up in that "creation" communicate a lot easier among themselves. During that time it was not important which national or religious group someone belonged to. They argued, had war, destroyed, and still communication existed. In the capital of Republic of Srpska, and especially during the last two years, the returns of Bosnian Muslims are very frequent. The picture, which is characteristic of this situation, is that those people, usually middle-aged, have been welcomed by their Serb neighbors, and sometimes even with tears of happiness. What is contradictory in this story? Young people. What is happening with young people? Mostly, they don't return. The problem is not that they don't want to return, but the problem is that there is almost no communication between that generation; a problem which is forgotten by every international institution. The projects aimed to show that relationships and communication exist are very rare. There are a lot of reasons why the situation is like this.
Young people weren't brought up in brotherhood and unity. Since 1992 they could hardly meet anyone from their generation who was of another nationality and religion. Parents, brothers, and sisters were in the war. Some of them never returned. They were hungry, thirsty, with bare feet, naked, frozen in the dark, and the only thing that they could find out was that it was the Muslims' and the Croats' or the Serbs' and the Croats' or the Serbs' and the Muslims' fault. All that happened while the civilized world went ahead.
The results of development and advancement of human society are very clear. Work made monkey into a man. Learning and going through different phases man came to this level of development. So, the conclusion of advantage is work, which resulted from school. In BIH school exists, but the expression is that it teaches the wrong things. Why then, if they are educated, cultured, and civilized does communication lack?
Religious Education Across Time and Borders
"The role of communism", What does communism have to do with today's education? A lot. In our society the predominant impression that exists is that the role of the church radically changed since the communists left. That is not (completely) correct. Since the middle ages when "there was no thing or action which wasn't connected with religion", the influence of religion in European society decreased. The period of the Enlightenment (18th century) seriously repressed the church from education, so in the19th century religion became one of the subjects in schools. In the schools of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which many mention as a "bright example", religion class was compulsory once a week. And then communism arrived which despised the stories about " heaven", and believed in its own mission, so religion class was cancelled and was replaced by a class on Marxism, which started the project "heaven on earth."
Has the relationship in society changed, so that the "renovation" of religion would be real? First, the importance of religion science in democratic countries decreased. For example we have Catholic Italy where religion science became facultative subject.
In the USA, where a lot of confessions were registered, "never tried to introduce in public schools subjects which would provoke classification". When the American Supreme court was confronted with the question whether the Bible could be studied in public schools, the decision was it could, but the pupils should establish those sections and maintain them after classes.
In Great Britain, children from 5 to 11 years of age study the subject in two parts: comparative religion and religious morals. They study the main concepts from the world's biggest religions, and what else could they concerning their age. Germans have religion as a compulsory subject. The pupils can choose between the Catholic and Evangelistic understanding of Christianity and the world.
Cultural differences and the power of church condition children's education about this important and subtle area in our life. The religion science in BIH is very specific. It has developed in accordance with the war. At the beginning of the war, in the primary school program in Republic of Srpska was introduced science about religion. In RS only the Christian Orthodox religion was taught. This religion was not compulsory for the children, who were not Serbs. These classes were organized only for one major ethnic group. It was prescribed in the regulations that in schools with a certain number of children, which were of another nationality, education could be organized about their religion. An example is the two schools in Prnjavor where the local bishop maintained religious classes for Catholic children.
Learn, just learn, but what will you learn
"The next paragraph contains material whose authencity hasn't been proved, which can be insulting, or which can bring about a wrong conclusion. This material is in the process of investigation".
This is stamped at the beginning of the books for primary and secondary school, for the international tutors to dictate and so that Serbs, Croats and Muslims could be brought closer by recreating or forgetting their own history. The text of the stamp has been created in the office of the High representative of International Union, and the texts, which were studied before the war in BIH have been sealed with it. For example the songs from Music education "Far away" (Tamo daleko) and "The French bark is moving" (Krece se ladja Francuska) have been sealed with this stamp.
The history books in RS do not contain any war events. The excuse for this is that it is necessary for some time to pass and that the people directly involved need to leave political life. In this way distance is provided, which is necessary to judge the events without taking sides. However, opposite to the pupils in RS, those in Federation BIH are already learning about "Serbs who did an aggression to BIH".
Then we are again at the beginning of the text "reconciliation".
On November 27th this year the school supervisor for religion in RS, Krstan Dubravac, suggested to the Ministry of Education in RS to not use the books for Islam religion in RS because "they spread intolerance towards other religions". In the report Dubravac stated that those books constantly mention that the others were the cause and reason of all evil, as well as about "shotgun in arms", "rain of Serbian bullets", and the "liberation of Bosnia" and "chasing from Vrbas".
"That negatively influences the establishing of positive relations between children which are in the phase of forming their personality", the Report said. As an illustration in the book of Islamic religion for the second grade on page 41 was the text: "help Allah and give gratitude because his name was not Spasoje"(that is a Serbian name), and on page 49 "only Muslims can be honest friends", on the page 81 "Sarajevo is kept by criminals in dark".
"On the next page throughout all the text Turkish conquerors were considered to be saviors and friends to people in Bosnia who were enslaved by them, and that Bosnia developed in that period", stated the report. On the page 94 from the same book were parts where "foes devastated Islamic monuments of culture". In the report were terms such as "criminal Serbian granates". In the books for the sixth grade there were pieces of text that stated, "atheists are those who don't believe in the Koran", "the only believer is a Muslim- all others are atheists", "Serbs slaughtered Muslim children only because they have a Muslim name", "the West was on the side of foe".
According to the mosques, in the same book on page 18 it was stated that "the mosque in Caparda was ruined by chetnics in 1993". "These books are not recommendable in the area of RS", stated the report announced in FBIH. The school supervisor suggested to the ministry to work without books this year, and to skip certain paragraphs for the next year.
However, the news about this suggestion of Krstan Dubravac was transferred to the SRNA (Serbian press agency) so that those who didn't have a clue, now know everything. Can you imagine the pupils of the primary schools who have a break after religion science class? What could they think about each other? Is there a future in Bosnia?
Religion was introduced as a school subject from the first to the eighth grade of primary school. It was a plan until the 2000/2001 school year, but for the 2001/2002 school year a new subject called "The culture of religions" was planned. It would be introduced in the eighth grade, and religious science would be from first to seventh grade of primary school. This new subject would include other religions in BiH, but this project hasn't been maintained. The pupils in the eighth grade of primary school will study religion in accordance with an old plan and program.