Victorious Bosnia students 'will continue segregation struggle'

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The victorious Jajce students received a hero's welcome when they arrived to continue their campaign against segregated schools in Travnik on Tuesday

Flush with success, students in Bosnia have vowed to continue their struggle against ethnic segregation in schools.

At the weekend, the regional government dropped plans to force students in the town of Jajce into two ethnically based schools after a year-long campaign.

The Jajce students were given a hero's welcome by pupils from other towns as they arrived in Travnik, the capital of the Central Bosnia Canton, on Tuesday.

They now want to end segregation in the remaining 57 schools in the entity.

"We saved our school... now the time has come for every other school in Bosnia and Herzegovina to fight against division and segregation," Nikolas Rimac, a Croat student who helped lead the struggle in Jajce, told the On Events.

The practice of separating students in the same building to learn from differentiated Bosnian, Serbian or Croatian curricula was introduced following the Balkan war of the 1990s.

Two schools under one roof

It persists in spite of a ruling by the Federation Constitutional Court that it is discriminatory. The US ambassador and international organisations, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, have also opposed the practice.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption "We can do it together," says this placard from Tuesday's protest

Under the system known as "two schools under one roof", the children are physically divided and cannot socialise.

Defenders of the system say it preserves ethnic identity and prevents one ethnic group from dominating another.

But campaigners say it fosters tensions and suspicions from an early age.

The schools are "prisons and factories of hatred," Mr Rimac said.

He said protests such as that on Tuesday in Travnik showed how such divisions could be broken down.

"It was brilliant," he told the Eyes On Events. "All those wonderful and kind people... standing together in the name of knowledge, education, unity and justice."


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