School children from eastern Bosnian village of Konjevic Polje, in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity, were forced to attend school in Nova Kasaba village, five kilometres away, because the RS Education Ministry does not recognise their right to study Bosnian language.
“The children went to the Petar Kocic school in Konjevic-Polje. The first thing I noticed when my children started going to school is that the Bosnian language did not exist, nor did they learn anything about Bosnia. That's when I started speaking against this, asking the school manager to solve the problem,” head of the parents’ association Muhizin Omerovic said.
The children there were taught Russian, rather than English or German, as their parents requested, Omerivoc said. This and other reasons forced the parents to enrol the children at an improvised school which teaches in accordance with the Sarajevo Canton's curriculum.
Omerovic also recalled that parents rejected the RS Ministry's proposal that the mother tongue be called “language of the Bosniak people” instead of “Bosnian language.”
The problem appeared when the RS Education Ministry decided to abolish the name “Bosnian language” for Bosniak children speaking that language and instead call it “language of the Bosniak people,” citing the RS entity Constitution which says the people in this entity speak Serbian language and the language of the Bosniak people as well as language of the Croat people.
That is when parents stopped sending their children to school, protesting the Ministry's decision, and authorities from Sarajevo Canton (from the Bosniak-Croat shared Federation entity – FBiH) started sending their teachers to teach children classes according to the Sarajevo Canton's curriculum.
Bosnia's Islamic Community also got involved and provided their rooms in the Nova Kasaba village, some five kilometres away from Konjevic Polje, for Bosniak children to attend school there, but Omerovic pointed out that some villages are 18 kilometres away.
Solidarity Forum EMMAUS equipped the rooms with basic school material and the project was also supported by the FBiH Education Ministry which decided to fund the teachers and books for students, and the FBiH Displaced and Refugees Ministry provided transportation for students.