The head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia called the latest instruction by the Sarajevo Canton Education Ministry to teach classes in one of three official languages in the country unacceptable.
“While the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina acknowledges that each constituent people has its own language, the existence of three languages should not be used to create or deepen divisions in society,” Bruce Berton said. “Teaching exclusively in one of the three official languages is not in accordance with principles of equality of all languages of constituent peoples.”
Ambassador Berton noted that the legal formulation contained in the current Law on Primary Education of Sarajevo Canton is unacceptable and that it is not in line with Bosnia’s Framework Law on Primary and Secondary Education.
In his statement, he said the OSCE Mission warned relevant cantonal authorities about this divergence during the adoption procedure of the cantonal Law on Primary Education and continued to do so after its adoption.
They reiterated their concerns before the relevant authorities following the issuance of the Instruction in September 2017.
"Full implementation of the legal provision of the Law following the issuance of this Instruction could lead to complete segregation of children in Canton Sarajevo which does not contribute to reconciliation in general," Berton said.
It is crucial, he stressed, to make a distinction between teaching in one's mother tongue and learning one's mother tongue.
According to the OSCE official, the issuance of another Instruction in November 2018 indicates lack of willingness of authorities in Canton Sarajevo to amend the disputable language provision in the Law on Primary Education in the Canton.
Canton Sarajevo's Education Ministry issued an instruction to all the primary and secondary schools telling them they must teach one of three constitutional languages to students instead of a combined class whereby language teachers would teach one language and indicate grammatical differences between it and the other two languages.
Berton reiterated that the Mission will "continue to advocate with authorities at the highest level for respect for human rights, including the right to education free from all forms of discrimination, in line with the OSCE commitments."