Project to reduce ethnic differences in schools

SARAJEVO, Jun 28, 2000 -- (AFP) The office of the international community's top mediator in Bosnia launched here on Wednesday an education for peace project to reduce ethnic differences among Bosnia's school children.

German diplomat Matei Hoffmann, deputy to top mediator Wolfgang Petritsch, said that the project, expected to cost almost 2 million German marks (963,000 dollars, one million euros), would affect 6,000 pupils in Sarajevo, the western town of Banja Luka and the central town of Travnik.

The program, aimed at creating a violence-free society, is to be financed by the Luxembourg government and implemented by the Suiss Landegg academy, which specializes in peace and tolerance education, he added.

"The idea is to gradually free the minds from historic, inter-ethnic animosities throughout the country," Hoffmann said, adding that the project would be extended to other schools as well.

Six primary and six secondary schools in both of Bosnia's post-war entities -- the Bosnian Serbs' Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat federation -- are to be included in this project.

"Very many minds are poisoned, and this project may help bring about the cure", Hoffmann said.

Although the war ended almost five years ago, Bosnia remains bitterly divided between the three ethnic groups -- Croats, Muslims and Serbs.

Each of the three ethnic communities living in Bosnia has its own curricula. In the areas controlled by Croats and Serbs, the curricula is almost the same as that used in neighboring Croatia and Serbia.

In April, Petritsch said the education system in Bosnia reflected the ethnic cleansing that ravaged the country during the 1992-95 war.

Original article