By Maja Tuljković – Sarajevo
Children from the elementary school “Petar Kočić” in Konjević Polje have not been attending school since 2 September, because the Ministry of Education f the RS did not meet the demands of parents to allow their children to study the ‘national’ subjects and to adequately solve the problem of the ethnic composition of the scool board.
Parents and children from Konjević Polje have been protesting in front of the OHR building in Sarajevo for 15 days. The parents sleep in tents, and the children, due to the cold, are staying in the elementary school in Ilidža. According to them, they have been trying to solve this problem at the local level for years, through various petitions and negotiations, but without results. They decided to come to Sarajevo because they could not wait any longer. However, now they are requesting for separate schools and for a change in the name of the school, to the name that existed in 1991.
The RS Minister of Education and Science Goran Mutabdžija pointed out that the Ministry is thinking of shutting down the schools in Konjević Polje. He said that he was ‘tricked’ several times by the parents, with who, according to him, an agreement had been reached.
‘’I do not know how many times I have to say that this is three percent of Bosniak children who attend school in the RS. We cannot, because of the three percent, ignore the others. We have to move forward, and not back. If we cannot reach an agreement, the Ministry is thinking of shutting down the schools in Kojević Poolje and Kravica. In this way, we will centralize the system of education at the level of primary schools in municipality Bratunac’’, said Mutabdžija.
On the other side, the parents do not wish to speak any longer with Minister Mutabdžija. They spoke to the Head of the OSCE Mission in B&H Fletcher M. Burton on the issue, as well as with the High Representative to B&H Valentin Inzko, both of whom have promised to become actively involved in solving the problem.
The FB&H Minister of Education and Science Damir Mašić sent an open letter to the High Representative to B&H Valentin Inzko, which says that the RS Ministry of Education and Science is fully ignoring the fact the children of Bosniak refugees in Konjević Polje have not been attending classes for nearly two months and that their parents are staying in tents in front of the OHR building for 10 days, thus trying to point out the gross violation of human rights. The Minister asks for the High Representative to finally react and in this way ensure that every child, regardless of their national, religious, social, or cultural background to have equal access and opportunity to education.
The parents are outraged by the actions of OSCE, OHR and the B&H government, and they say that, if this situation is not solved, they will submit a criminal complaint against the OSCE and OHR. They will send requests to embassies that have their headquarters in B&H to have them collectively moved out, because in B&H, they cannot exercise their rights.
And while parents eagerly await the solution to the problem, it is the children who suffer the most. No one wonders what it is like for them and how they will catch up. The children only want to go to school.