Dialogue for the Future in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Education reflects the values that our society holds closest

, Bosnia and Herzegovina
04 - Quality Education

Bosnia and Herzegovina hosted the Thematic Dialogue Platform on the role of education in the development of social cohesion on 29 November 2019. The event held in Banja Luka brought together key representatives from the education sector, decision-makers and representatives of the international community, committed to quality education to build more prosperous societies. The event was organised as part of the "Dialogue for the Future" Programme, initiated in 2004 following discussions between the United Nations Secretary-General and the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We need to think more rigorously in order to restore education to the importance it must have in society, and to find an effective answer, not only for the quality but also the adequacy of the education system of modern society”, H.E. Mr Milorad Dodik, member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina,  who officially opened the Thematic Dialogue Platform. “A system that will know how to recognize the talents that are coming, build access to them and show them that they can stay here. It is not enough to just build roads but essential to invest in generations to come - they are the highways of society. "

Since 2014, the Dialogue for the Future (DFF) Programme, funded by UN Peacebuilding Fund and implemented by 3 UN agencies UNESCO, UNDP and UNICEF, looks into ways to enhance interaction and cooperation between different social and ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region through dialogue, identifying priorities and engagement in finding appropriate solutions. The Thematic Dialogue Platform in Banja Luka brought together over 120 government representatives and decision makers from all levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina, academia, primary and secondary schools, pedagogical institutes, civil society, media and students themselves. Goal 4 - Quality education(Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) has been recognized by Bosnia and Herzegovina as one of its basic and priority goals.

"Education is not just a tool for transferring social values ​​and ideals to younger generations, it is also a reflection of the values ​​and principles that one society holds closest to itself," said Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the goals of the Dialogue for the Future initiative is to give space to support everyone to accept and promote positive values ​​that lead to positive outcomes, firstly and importantly, a peaceful and prosperous society.

Goran Cosic, Deputy Minister of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasized the commitment to efforts towards impartial and effective education, in line with indicators of SDGs, and the importance of standardized monitoring of the quality of education. If today, progress is being made in many places, still much is to be done. With only 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, 2020 needs to usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Goals by 2030.

In that respect, Rownak Khan, UNICEF representative, recalled that in 2015 Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted the 17 Goals as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: “It is a moral imperative for all nations and an obligation for Bosnia and Herzegovina, in line with its values, to advance towards achieving the goals. Our project you all know is named Dialogue for the Future, and education is one of the most important pathways to ensure a safe, sustainable and prosperous future.”.

Sinisa Sesum, head of the Antenna in Sarajevo, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, “The presence of many students and teachers at this conference today, together with decision-makers, confirms the need to open dialogue about the future of education systems in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

"Dialogue for the Future" seeks to open space for discussion of the steps necessary to meet the goals, and to support related proposals. One of them - the Universal Code of Ethics for Schools - was proposed on one of the previous platforms and, on this occasion, it was presented for use by all schools, teaching staff, students and parents in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Necessary statistics to track indicators related to SDG 4 - Quality Education were also shown, as well as programmes focusing on media and information literacy, an area recognized as critical to critical thinking and promoting social values.

Speaking of the importance of investing in quality education, Natalija Trivic, Minister of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska and Srdjan Rajcevic, Minister of Education and Science of the Federation of BiH, and Minister of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Information Society of Republika Srpska emphasized the need for a continuous dialogue with all relevant actors - especially among the students. Lifelong learning and personalized approach, while building skills for contemporary society should be the focus of any approach to education that seeks to be innovative and focused on the well-being of students.

The Thematic Dialogue Platform closed with a joint visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Republika Srpska, where students from different parts of the country presented an exhibition on local cultural heritage. Youth also contributed with a presentation of the Bosnian edition of the UNESCO publication "World Heritage in Young Hands: to know, cherish and act ", one of the main tools of the World Heritage Education Programme, to sensitize young people to the importance of preserving their local, national and world heritage.

Video: Dialogue for the Future