New school year, old problems

New school year, old problems

Banja Luka, September 1, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

Thousands of pupils in Republic of Srpska begun on Tuesday the new school year, but a large number of them, in areas where Bosniak returnees represent a majority, didn’t do to school with their friends. This problem persists for years and repeatedly, children from the villages Konjević Polje, Vrbanjci and Kotorsko, under the influence of their parents, go to other cities in Federation BiH on instructive lectures.

This problem is several years old and children suffer because of the dispute between parents and RS Ministry of education about the name of language in the national group of school subjects. Parents insist that name of the national language their kids will study, is “Bosanski” (“Bosnian”), but Ministry allowed the name “language of Bosniak nation”. The ministry explains that the name “Bosnian” is not linked just with Bosniaks (Muslims) in BiH and that parents, under the influence of political parties, want to impose an exclusive right of a “Bosnian” nation in the state. In this way, only Bosniaks will be “owners” of the language, which will imply the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state.

On the other side, parents for years are saying that “Bosnian language” is the official name of their language. Representative of parents in Vrbanjci, near Banja Luka, Dzevad Smailovic, told the media that he is disappointed with the fact that there was no agreement with the ministry.

“Children are the biggest losers in this situation. We hope that representatives of relevant institutions in RS government will find the will to discuss this problem and to come up with a compromise solution”, Smailovic said to the media.

He added that the ministry, just few days before official beginning of the school year, canceled agreement that parents will accept the name “language of Bosniak nation”. But, RS minister of education, Dane Malesevic, claimed otherwise.

“I never agreed with the name “Bosnian language”, it can be only “language of Bosniak nation in RS”, as it is quoted in RS Constitution. The ministry will not change the books and all of the books that were used in the last several years will be valid for this school year”, Malesevic stated.

He added that a solution was on the horizon in Vrbanjci, but parents, under the influence of politics, decided not to send their children to school. Malesevic expect that a solution will be found very soon, in order for the children to return to the school in this village.

Malesevic added that parents of pupils in Kotorsko, near the city of Doboj, had informed him earlier that they will refuse the ministry’s proposal to name the language as “language of Bosniak nation in RS”.

Perhaps the bigger problem in this situation is the fact that children from various nationalities, Bosniaks and Serbs, will go to different schools, without the chance to build a mutual understanding and coexistence, which is most important for peace of future generations in Bosnia, as the country which came out of the war 20 years ago and still lives in national borders. What’s even more absurd is that the Bosniak (or “Bosnian”) and Serb  languages are 90 percent the same, with the difference being so small that even the citizens themselves don’t recognise who is Serb and who is Bosniak on the basis of speech alone.