Breakup of Yugoslavia
Today Bosnia and Herzegovina is a multi-ethnic federal state with a mix of Orthodox Serbs, Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats.
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1989 – Fall of Berlin Wall
Increase in tensions between different national and ethnic groups.
Co-existing largely peacefully within a unified federal Yugoslavia
1991 – Outbreak of war
Violent conflict with extensive civilian suffering
  • Over 140,000 dead
  • Over 4 million displaced
  • Over 1 million refugees
Extreme violence profoundly shook Europe
  • Demonstrating the ongoing legacy of the Second World War
1995 – Dayton Accord
Ended the war with the country constitutionally divided between:
  • The Serb Republic, Ethnically homogeneous
  • The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Divided into ten Cantons and one Municipality; Mix of Muslim Bosniaks, Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs
1195 – Present
Situation today largely as agreed per the Dayton Accord.
In Bosnia, education is reinforcing and entrenching divisions between different national and ethnic groups from an early age, rather than supporting reconciliation and reconstruction.
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Before the war academic standards in Yugoslavia were high, as in many other Eastern European countries
  • Secondary schools pursued high standards of academic attainment and produced an academic elite
  • Thousands of foreign students, with the support of scholarships, studied in Yugoslav universities
Following the war, however, education policy in Bosnia has been driven by ethnic pressures
Segregation of students by ethnic group into separate classes, taught exclusively in the language of their own ethnic group
Today, the official policy is “two schools under one roof”
Students of different ethnic backgrounds are taught in separate classes within the same school
However, under this policy, ethnic segregation sometimes becomes even more visible
Segregated classes are taught in adjoining classrooms, with breaks carefully timed to minimize human contact.
Alongside segregation runs a complete neglect of civic education
  • No meaningful community service elements that encourage young students to offer help across the ethnic divide
  • Failure of the educational system to support public-spirited community involvement needed by a post-conflict society
These policies are all currently reflected in Mostar where Croat and Bosniak pupils
  • Attend separate schools
  • Are taught different curricula for different examinations
  • Are taught by their own “ethnically acceptable” teachers
  • Have no meaningful way of providing community service across the ethnic divide
Mostar was symbolic of the violent breakdown of a multi-ethnic community. Mostar has become a litmus test for the efforts towards reconciliation of the international community.
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Mostar is the symbol of the violent breakdown and division of a previously ethnically and religiously integrated society
Until the war, Mostar was one of the most ethnically integrated cities in all of former Yugoslavia
Having the second highest interethnic marriage rate in former Yugoslavia
During the war the city divided along ethnic lines
  • The Catholic Croat community on the western bank of the Neretva River
  • The Muslim Bosniak community on the eastern bank of the Neretva River
  • The Orthodox Serb population being largely driven out of Mostar
As a symbol of the division of the city the Famous Old bridge, built around 1550, was destroyed in the fighting in 1993
The bridge was rebuilt following the war but the ethnic divisions remain clearly visible
  • High above the town on the western side there towers an immense, floodlit Catholic cross
  • On the eastern side the minarets and mosques stand almost side by side.
Today, Mostar remains a divided city
  • The civic administration is divided
  • Two universities and segregated schools
  • The Orthodox Serbs, a substantial community before the war, have been driven away
Significant efforts have been and are being made by the international community to support reconciliation in Mostar
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Mostar - Divided City