Olympic and Paralympic Values: Equality week

BBC World Class takes a look at the 'Two Schools Under One Roof' scheme, pioneered after the end of the Bosnian War.

Nada is 13 and goes to Kiseljac 1 school in Keseljac in Bosnia Hercegovina. She likes fashion. Saudin Dahija is her head teacher.

Mina is 12, she goes to Brestovlso school in the same town. Mina likes maths. Ana Lastro is her head teacher.

But although Mina and Nada attend different schools, they are in the same building. This kind of school is called Two Schools Under One Roof.

Recent war in Bosnia

Map of Bosnia

It came about because of the Bosnian war.

For 3 years, Bosnians from different religions and backgrounds fought each other. One hundred thousand people died.

After the war ended in 1995, this kind of school was set up as the first step to bring people back together.

But after so many years, it's keeping them apart.

Separate or together?

Pupils in Bosnia

Most of the Bosnian Muslim pupils in this school - like Nada - want the two schools to merge:

"I would like this school to be in the same class as my friends in the other school," she says.

But Croat pupils - like Mina - aren't keen.

"It's not the language that is the issue," says Mina. "We don't have much in common, it's just difficult. Sometimes the kids from the other school tease us then we get upset and decide not to hang out with them."

Mina's English teacher explains that Croat families are concerned they will lose their identity. They are worried that if they don't work hard to keep their language separate they will "disappear as a people".

Mina and Nada's schools share a building, but are very separate. They don't even have joint clubs after school.


apples and pears

Bosnian courts have ruled that separating the children is wrong because they aren't being treated equally. The judge has said it is discrimination.

But one Bosnian education minister has said people should be treated differently.

She said, "Apples with apples, pears with pears."

Konjic first school

Pupils entering Konjic first school

About fifty miles away, Lelja and Gondara go to Konjic first school.

It used to be Two Schools Under One Roof, but just after Lelja started school, the two halves joined up.

Back then, the building was divided by a glass wall which used to be locked.

Today, the door is open, there's one head teacher and staff, and children from both the Bosniak and Croat lessons can do after school clubs together but children still learn separately in slightly different languages - Bosnian and Croat.

Almost all the children here take the Bosnian classes, like Lelja in Year 8.

Lelja says, "Sadly I don't have Catholic kids attending my classes because they are attending the other curricula and in their mother tongue but we use the breaks and other opportunities to hang out together.

"We hang out. I am not "friends friends". We spend every day time together. We are friends in a way."

Single pupil

Pupil in class

But Gordana is the only pupil in Year 5 learning the Croat curriculum, one of just 14 children in the whole school.

She says, "I quite enjoy the history lessons. They are fun and I learn a lot. I think I would like to learn a bit more about the First World War when I am older."

Today she is learning about ancient Greece with her history teacher Ms Bise.

Ms Bise says, "To be honest it is a bit awkward the two of us being all alone in this classroom. I find a way to keep it fresh and fun. Sometimes I play a movie if it relates. But we get by. She learns what she needs to learn."

Up to the age of 15, children aren't taught the history of the recent war. Ms Bise thinks that the children are too young to learn about such a difficult topic.

But Gordana thinks it is important to understand what happened.

When she does PE, Gordana joins older children - because there's no one in her year to do sport with. She says that it was her parents' idea for her to do the Croat curriculum: "Some of my friends were already doing it, so it was a natural choice."

Future together?

Inside the classrooms Konjic First School does not look much different to the 'two schools under one roof system', but there's a big difference in attitudes. Staff and pupils are much more relaxed about working together.

Lelja and Gordana both want schools to join up in the future.

Lelja says: "I really disagree with that way of schools management but it's happening because of the adults. They still don't understand that this is not the right way of doing things, and that kids should be accepted no matter who they are and which religion they come from."

Gordana says: "I love my school. It's the best school in the world. When it comes to the other schools keeping kids separate I think it's ok if the parents are fine with that but if you ask me I don't think they should be separating the kids."

"My religion is important to me but hanging out and being together with everyone else is a bit more important."

Schools World Service is a BBC British Council co-production

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