The twelve Bosniak pupils in the eastern village of Liplje who did not join their classmates on the first day of school at the beginning of last month due to alleged discrimination have started attending classes following an agreement between their parents and the Education Ministry of Bosnia’s Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS) entity.
Bosniaks pupils 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 were being discriminated against by the principal who changed the name of their language from ‘Bosnian’ to “Language of the Bosniak people” in the registry.
A curriculum including a ‘Bosnian language’ being taught in the RS has been an ongoing issue in the semi-autonomous region for years.
The Bosniak pupils and their parents asked political and international community representatives, including the High Representative – the official tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement – for help in realising their right to their language being part of the curriculum.
The Croat member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, met with the Bosniak parents in September and promised them legal aid if the issue of the issue remains unresolved.
Meanwhile, his Bosnian Serb colleague in the Presidency, Milorad Dodik, argued that since the ethnic group ‘Bosnian’ does not exist in the Constitution, neither should a ‘Bosnian language’.
However, the parents and the RS Education Ministry reached an agreement.
“Our oral agreement will be put on paper and there will be a record of it in written form. We were asked for our children to start attending school and we met our part of the agreement. Now it is up to them to meet our demands,” said Muharem Sinanovic, one of the parents.
Pupils in Liplje attend the local ‘Sveti Sava’ primary school up until fifth grade and attend the next for years in the school in Zvornik.
The Bosniak parents have been protesting over the same issue in 2018 and were promised that it will be resolved by local authorities. Two years later, however, they were faced with the same situation.