The school system in Bosnia is divided along the language boundaries and between separate education ministries: in the two entities (Federation and Republika Srpska), in Brčko and in the Federation’s ten cantons. School compulsory schooling is for nine years, between the ages of 6 and 15.
Few children attend preschool in Bosnia, but the vast majority attend primary school. The majority also attend upper secondary school which is up to four years and offers both study preparation and vocational education.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
The education system largely collapsed during the war and is still suffering from major material deficiencies.
The compulsory school was extended in accordance with a change in the law in 2003 from eight to nine years, although it was slowly possible to offer all children nine-year-old school in practice. At the same time, a common curriculum was introduced for the entire country. This took place following international pressure and aimed to reduce the ethnic contradictions, which the schools considered to be reinforced by giving different histories and emphasizing language differences (see Population and languages). However, since the division of language is a basis of the Dayton Agreement and the country’s structure (see Modern History), and the right to education in its own language is considered an important basic principle, it is difficult to access the division.
The lack of national coordination of the school system also means that education is still largely ethnically segregated. Since 1999, a model with “two schools under one roof” has been used for Bosniaks and Croats, which means that the children attend the same school but are held in different classes. The Supreme Court of the Federation has ruled that the division consolidates segregation and constitutes discrimination, but the system remains.
In the Republic of Srpska, Bosnian parents have protested, among other things, by keeping their children away from school due to dissatisfaction with the teaching of subjects such as history and mother tongue.
There are 8 state universities and just over 20 private colleges. The proportion of higher education is lower than in most European countries, but is increasing.
- Searchforpublicschools: Offers schooling information of Bosnia and Herzegovina in each level – compulsory, technical and higher education programs.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
97.0 percent (2013)
Man convicted of terrorism
A man who carried out a bombing attack on the Bugojno police station in 2010 (see June 2010) is sentenced to 45 years in prison for terrorism. In the attack one policeman was killed and six others were injured.
Parental protest in Republika Srpska
Bosnian parents from Republika Srpska set up protest camps outside the High Representative’s (see Political System) office in Sarajevo and demanded that their children receive important portions of schooling in the mother tongue and not in Serbian. The protests have been going on for weeks and the children have boycotted the school since September.
The EU withdraws aid
The EU decides to withdraw € 47 million in aid after Bosnia’s politicians failed to agree on the constitutional change required for minority groups to stand in elections. Both the EU and the Council of Europe have criticized Bosnia for still excluding minorities (see December 2009).
Census is carried out
Bosnia will conduct its first census after the war in the early 1990s. The result is counterbalanced with excitement, as it is politically sensitive what the balance of power looks like between the three large groups of people, Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims.
Protests against political locking of social security numbers
Thousands of protesters block Parliament in Sarajevo in protest that elected officials cannot agree on a new law on social security numbers, which refuses newborn ID documents and thus medical care. The protests are widening to a general demand that politicians from different ethnic groups abandon their lockdown and agree on important issues for the good of the country. One of the slogans reads: “The young people want unity”. Only in November is a new law passed and the protests cease.
Former politicians and militants convicted of war crimes
Six Bosnian Croat politicians and military are sentenced in the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague to prison for between 10 and 25 years for war crimes in the 1990s. Jadranko Prlić, former president of the Bosnian Croat outbreak Republic of Herceg-Bosna, receives the longest sentence.
The President of the Federation seized
Bosnian police arrest Federation President Živko Budimir and 18 other persons, including several of the president’s staff, suspected of corruption. Budimir is accused of taking bribes to approve amnesties for a number of convicted people. Budimir is released in May.
Former militia leaders convicted of war crimes
A Bosnian court sentenced Serbian former militia leader Veselin Vlahović to 45 years in prison for murdering 31 people, kidnapping 14 people, raping at least 13 women and torturing several victims. The kidnapped are still missing. The crimes were committed during the civil war of 1992–1995, and the verdict is the most severe conviction in the country for war crimes.
Ex-minister convicted of war crimes
The UN tribunal in The Hague sentenced the former interior minister of the Republika Srpska and his subordinates to 22 years in prison each for ethnic cleansing of Croats and Muslims in the civil war in 1992.
New Prime Minister
President Dodik of the Republika Srpska appoints one of his allies to become new governors, after the previous government resigned at his request. According to the president, the government needs new energy after a year of economic recession and with an unemployment rate of about 42 percent. New Prime Minister will be former Finance Minister Željka Cvijanović, who will become Republika Srpska’s first female head of government.