Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The View from Here - Bosnia and Herzegovina - Knocking Down the Ethnic Partition: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The View from Here - Bosnia and Herzegovina - Knocking Down the Ethnic Partition: News

Article excerpt

The very architecture of the scheme would seem to beggar belief. Two schools under one roof, where separate sets of pupils enter and exit the same building without brushing shoulders, take their recreation in different playgrounds and are taught lessons steeped only in their own cultures, a world away from their peers sitting on the other side of the classroom wall.

This is one of the many bizarre legacies of the wars that ripped apart the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and exploded most viciously in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995.

As a result of the Dayton Accords that ended the conflict, the country was divided into the Bosniak-Croatian Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and the Serb-led Republika Srpska, yet the ethnic fissures caused by the conflicts permeated more deeply into society than even that would suggest. The "two schools under one roof" practice has been by and large confined to the FBiH, with Catholic Croatian and Muslim Bosniak pupils in the federation's most ethnically riven areas being educated according to different syllabuses since 1995. But with the government determined to look forward rather than constantly hark back to the recent and bloody past, the days of segregation in education look to be numbered.

In August, the FBiH's education minister, Damir Masic, announced his intention to do away with separate schooling in two years' time. Multi- ethnic classes will be the norm, he insisted. Yet, to some extent his hand has been forced. …

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