Bosniak children in the eastern village Liplje who have still have not attended classes this school year due to alleged discrimination regarding the lack of Bosnian language classes in the local school have written a letter to Bosnia’s international administrator, asking him to intervene and help resolve the issue.
Bosniaks students of the ‘Sveti Sava’ primary school in Liplje, near the eastern town of Zvornik, did not join their classmates on the first day of the new school year on September 1 since, according to their parents, they are being discriminated against by the principal who changed the name of their language from ‘Bosnian’ to “Language of the Bosniak people” in the registry.
Authorities in Bosnia’s Serb-majority semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity have not been willing to resolve the issue so far.
The children and their parents decided to ask High Representative Valentin Inzko, who oversees the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, for help.
Their full letter follows:
"Dear Mr. Inzko,
We, a group of schoolchildren from Liplje, warmly greet you. While all the other children of our age have been going to school for a few weeks already, we are still isolated from the others and eagerly waiting for someone to provide us and our exhausted parents with the right solution and way forward, so that we can finally attend school. We all excitedly waited for the first day of school, with our backpacks, pencil cases and notebooks ready.
Our parents prepared us for attending school in the new conditions, they told us about the little heroes who will start this school year in a slightly different way, wearing masks and with special caution. We were ready to be those heroes, who would show they know how to protect themselves and the whole planet, for our parents and the entire world. After all, we are the future of the planet, aren't we?
We also watched as Mrs. Cvijanovic (RS President Zeljka Cvijanovic) wished ALL the students a happy first day of school. Unfortunately, that lady obviously didn't think of us, because why would she and others care that some children over in Liplje were not allowed to be like everyone else and start the school year with the issue of their mother tongue finally resolved. If this lady really wanted us all to be happy, she would not deny us our right to be educated in the language we all know as our mother tongue - the Bosnian language.
However, it seems that we are not children, or at least we’re not valuable enough to be equal. Should we give up the language we speak in our homes? The language of our parents, our grandparents? The language in which our mothers fed us, sang lullabies to us and sent us to school?
Mr., who is offended by that language and why? Maybe you can explain that to us, because we only have a bunch of questions and no solutions or answers. Tell us, should we let them push us into a corner and consider us less valuable? Are we not just children, with the same right to education and mother tongue, like any other child anywhere on the planet? At least you show, Mr., that someone there still cares about us and help us realize what is our right.
Come, visit us and bring us to our school desks, don't allow for politics to be conducted over our backs."