By Maja Tuljković – Sarajevo
The parents of children from Konjević Polje have been in front of the OHR building for 52 days, and last night, despite the low temperatures and snowfall, slept in tents. The children stayed at a nearby hostel.
As we have written about earlier, since 2 September students of Bosniak nationality have not been attending school because the RS Ministry of Education did not meet the demands of the parents to provide their children with the national group of subjects and to adequately solve the issue of ethnic composition of the school board.
During the protest, parents held a series of meetings, but not one of these meetings led to a concrete solution. In the last few days, as for the possible return of students from Konjević Polje to their classes, entrance to some Sarajevo elementary schools was mentioned, or to ensure space in Konjević Polje that would be a relocated department for Bosniak children, and teachers would come from Sarajevo.
Parents did not previously agree to a proposal of the RS Minister for Education and Culture Goran Mutabdžija on supplementary education from the school’s two lessons a week from the first to fifth grade. And in the Sarajevo schools children cannot be enrolled until they receive official notification of withdrawal from the previous school.
The Ministry gave parents a deadline to send their children to school on Monday, 25 November. This deadline has passed, and so has one-third of the school year. Yesterday in class, there were only seven children of Bosniak nationality. However, Minister Mutabdžija thinks that this is a positive signal, and that the rest of the parents would decide the same so that this problem would be solved tomorrow. Because of this, the Minister will still not comment on whether the children, who have not been attending classes since September, have lost a school year.
The RS Ministry of Education and Culture said that they continue to be open for discussions on all issues and national communities, but they must respect the laws of the RS, which stipulates that parents must send children to school. Therefore, on Monday they informed the Ombudsman for Human Rights in B&H on the ‘neglect of children by parents in the case of students from Konjević Polje and Vrbanjac”. The elemnentary school “Petar Kočić” from Kravica filed in the municipal court in Srebrenica a lawsuit against 95 parents of the students from Konjević Polje who are neglecting their children because they are prohibiting them from attending school as required by law. The list of parents was sent by the school the the Bratunac Center for Social Work to take the legally prescribed measures for the proteciton of the children. The fines for parents can be from 50 to 250 Euros and can be repeated. The Center said that they would not react yet, because they think that it is in the best interest of the students to wait for a solution to the situation.
On the other hand, the representative of parents from Konjević Polje Nedim Ademović expressed his satisfaction yesterday with a meeting of members of the School Board of the elementary school “Petar Kočić”, where decisions were prepared on the changes to the internal regulations of the school, where it is intended for all decisions to be made by consensus by members of the Board and without imposing. He said that they are now waiting for the appointment of the School Board new members, where representatives of the parents have to submit their proposals for appointment.
Parents agreed on one thing, and that is, despite the low temperatures and snowfall, they are staying in front of the Office of the High Representative in B&H until they get a written guarantee of everything that is agreed upon.