Divided Education—Education in Ethnic Cylinders
Political Elites Still Fighting War with Education
Political elites in BiH are still fighting the war via soft issues like education and are using education to control the population in each of the three ethnic cylinders created by the DPA (Perry, 2012). Education has been used to continue the ethnic cleansing stopped by the end of the war, resulting in the three ethnic cylinders in which ethnic political elites engender hatred and stoke fears to stay in power. As a result, any ‘possibility of a multi-ethnic polity is often repressed and marginalized’ (Belloni, 2001, p. 173). Local politicians have attempted to dominate education policy in BiH in the post-war era with efforts to continue the ethnic cleansing policies of the war via education (Durmic-Kahrovic, 2000), using numerous and staunch efforts to preserve the ethnically divided education system (Perry & Keil, 2012; Stabback, 2007).
The DPA do not function like a peace treaty, but rather more like an armistice, an agreement to stop hostilities, while the issues that led to the war are not resolved. ‘Dayton was signed and it’s a peace agreement, but the lack of implementation and the fact that the issues that we’re still fighting about now are exactly the same as in 1991 makes me think it’s a frozen conflict’ (Elizabeth). Elizabeth further explained that ‘the reason none of this stuff is working is because people still feel there are agendas that need to be fulfilled or justice that has not been attained’. Creating this situation is the fact that many of the politicians who led before and
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017 71
B. Lanahan, Post-Conflict Education for Democracy and Reform,
Palgrave Studies in Global Citizenship Education and Democracy,
during the war are still in control: ‘The people who fought the war continue to drive the political agenda’ (Roberts). The consistent interest of local political elites has allowed them to exert more control over time in relation to the IC, ‘but the interest on the part of the political elites of this country in education remained constant, so the balance of power between the internationals and the local political elites shifted in favor of the local political elites’ (Roberts).
This control over education is exerted via various channels, including the stocking of the ministries of education with political appointments. ‘Who is going to be Minister of Education, for example? They have their representative who is going to be Minister of Education. The appointing of those authorities, that is the political parties’ (Cehic). Control is also exerted by ignoring the dictates of the DPA and/or agreed-upon policies:
These five pledges were adopted by all the political parties, they all went up to Brussels and they all committed to all of these great things. Had there been any sort of effort to try to operationalize them, then that would’ve been good. (Elizabeth)
In addition to not implementing policies, coordination among the ministries is lacking, ‘The laws are not adjusted or they are adjusted but there is not money for implementation or no willingness to implement. All these kind of things, so there is very, very weak coordination among ministries’ (Berovic). Moreover, some ministers simply do not attend meetings: ‘Right now, for example, you have on the Federation level the ministries are meeting monthly, but the ministries from the cantons where the majority of the Croats are don’t come to those meetings’ (Berovic). Often requests for compliance with dictates of the DPA and/or policy changes are not realized without political pressure because ‘the political elites have no interest in compliance until they are forced to’ (Liesenfeld). This refusal is often in spite of the legal authority of the OHR, which has ‘influences, but they don’t use the power. They have very good ideas and intentions, but their ideas cannot get through because of our local politicians. Our local politicians ignore the international organizations to do whatever they want’ (Malic).
The objective of the local political elites is the manipulation of their constituent peoples. ‘They manipulate the masses with the stories of war and nationalism’ (Lovrenovic). This is often more acute in smaller towns and villages. ‘I would say brainwashed, especially in the small towns— everybody’ (Zoric). The result of these actions is the creation of schools that operate in ethnic cylinders in which students and their families often only interact with others from their own ethnic group. As a result, ‘for so many years the people were just being brainwashed by the national parties. I don’t think we have a political mass of the people to really change the situation because everyone is still in their own bubble’ (Daric). The aim of education becomes to make sure people believe what you want them to believe and have a very clear view of the people you consider adversaries. ‘If you have this kind of education among people, then it’s very easy to manipulate them. And, of course, children are also very easy to be manipulated in these circumstances’ (Saric). The insistence of political dominance over education also affects the quality of education. ‘The fundamental problem is that you cannot divorce the educational system and the educational experience from the overarching political environment; therefore, if you don’t solve the politics, you can’t really get at the quality’ (Roberts). Finally, this political dominance is wearing down those advocating for reform. ‘I honestly I think we, we were going up and now we are going down. I think last, last four-five years we’re going down. Just because of politics and because the people become tired’ (Berovic).