More than 200 BiH high school students gathered at the major city square in the capital of Sarajevo demanding their rights. With duct tape placed over their mouths, they symbolically expressed their powerlessness when it comes to speaking their minds and being heard by the proper authorities. Students were seeking answers to the questions such as “who can we turn to when our rights are violated?”, “how can we take part in creation of class curricula?” and “why aren’t there any teacher evaluations?”
Students also placed 13 chairs in the city square representing the 13 ministries of education that operate in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Only the minister of education from the Sarajevo Canton, Mr. Damir Marjanovic, was present to talk to students and answer their questions. Minister Marjanovic expressed his hope that this generation of students will be the one that will change the country for the better, and emphasized that only if and when they speak loudly and clearly enough will politicians listen. He urged them to talk to their school administrator, principal and even their education ministers if they feel their rights have been violated.
This protest is part of a wider movement called “We want to know” that included gatherings of students in all the major cities in the country with the aim of raising awareness of the current situation of education system in BiH and the issues students have to deal with on every day basis.
Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina is highly decentralized. There are 13 ministries of education – 2 entity, 10 cantonal and one for Brcko District – each following different programs and curricula. Certain schools still practice de facto segregation of children based on their ethnic belonging, even though this was ruled unconstitutional in 2012.
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