Ambassador Urges Citizens to Stand up for Quality Education

Bosnia’s faltering educational system has been under assault at every level recently, from elementary schools to universities, but the good news is that a number of citizens are standing up and engaging local leaders, and it’s making a difference, the U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia wrote in a blog.

“In Sarajevo, students, parents and teachers loudly voiced their opposition to proposals to revise the curriculum without regard to the effect on quality of education, to introduce external examinations that do not harmonize with the rest of the country, to politically “stack” school boards, and to merge schools without consulting local communities and education partners,” Ambassador Maureen Cormack wrote.

“In Jajce, students at the Vocational High School provide a shining example of civic engagement at its finest. Faced with the division of their school they – along with brave teachers and supportive parents – have become the “moral voice of BiH” on the issue of school segregation. They have clearly articulated that it is neither in their interest, nor in the country’s best interest, to be educated in a divided environment. And they are absolutely right. A compromise that does not further divide students along ethnic lines, but both recognizes and respects minority constituent students, can and must be found.”

“Last month in Tuzla, the Cantonal Assembly passed a law by one vote that gave politicians the power to appoint the leadership at the University of Tuzla, until now one of BiH’s more independent and respected institutions.  This has opened the door to undue political influence on the university’s management and faculty.”

“And in Republika Srpska, the RSNA (entity parliament) passed a new elementary education law that does not mention the state of BiH and leaves out the most essential element of the 2003 Framework Law on Education, the Common Core Curriculum (CCC). Key contacts in the RS tell us the law’s intent is to move schools toward a results-based education philosophy, and that goal is not mutually exclusive with the CCC. We look forward to seeing how implementation of this new law will advance RS schools toward this end,” the Ambassador wrote.

“We encourage citizens of BiH to follow the example of the students and teachers in Jajce, and the teachers, students and parents in Sarajevo Canton, and make their voices heard. Citizens can drive the education reform process if they peacefully demand that elected officials work toward the best interest of BiH’s young people – a quality education that sets them on a path of success to a shared future.”

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