The report reads, among other things, that the right to education is being violated in Bosnia and Herzegovina because of discrimination, which exists in schools in both entities, with the practice of ‘two schools under one roof’ in the Federation of BiH as the most visible - but by no means only - manifestation of discrimination in the education systems of the country.
“The 1990s conflict on the territory of BiH resulted in vast displacement and ethnic homogenization in many areas. In an attempt to reverse this process and encourage the return of refugees and displaced persons, many instances of ‘two schools under one roof’ were established as temporary measures to address the post-war ethno-centric education system. What was meant as a temporary solution has unfortunately become permanent, despite the efforts of the international community to ensure its transition”, the report reads.
The OSCE claims that ‘two schools under one roof’ segregate children, and through this segregation teach them that there are inherent differences between them, which increases mistrust among members of different ethnic groups, impedes reconciliation and is a long-term threat to stability, security and economic prosperity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“The practice of ‘two schools under one roof’ is a breach of international conventions as well as domestic legislation. Under ‘two schools under one roof’, pupils legally have the option to attend either of the two co-located schools, but the practical reality is that the school environments, including curricula, are welcoming to only one ethnic group”, the report concludes.
Furthermore, according to the OSCE’s report, “the need to protect one’s cultural identity is understandable and recognized as a fundamental right”. “However, as was noted in the BiH Report of the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, ‘the over-emphasizing of cultural differences, including linguistic differences, is used to justify practices that enforce the segregation of students based on ethno-national affiliation’”.
The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina recommended a number of steps to decisively advance toward ending the damaging practice of ‘two schools under one roof’.
Those steps include intensive dialogue among political leaders, with the OSCE’s report as the basis for their discussion; creation of administratively and legally unified schools as a feasible and pragmatic step toward ending segregation; increase of interaction among children through the introduction of joint extracurricular activities, joint classes and other measures; work on curricular reform, in particular through implementing enhanced BiH Common Core Curriculum based on Student Learning Outcomes, as a crucial step towards achieving inclusive schools; implementation of binding court decisions related to ‘two schools under one roof’; and responsibility of donors, who should avoid directing their funds and assistance to projects which would only benefit one ethnic group or support further division of students.