Bosnia and Herzegovina: a study of the effects of social and political change on primary schooling, 1878 – 2002

Owen-Jackson, Gwyneth Ann (2007). Bosnia and Herzegovina: a study of the effects of social and political change on primary schooling, 1878 – 2002. PhD thesis The Open University.



This study investigates the effects of social and political change on primary teaching in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The study considers the literature relating to educational developments in post-communist countries in political and economic transition. From the literature key themes were developed as a basis from which the data could be interrogated. The themes relate to how: (i) in times of transition or conflict, schools become arenas for competing forces; (ii) educational reform follows a series of stages and successful implementation requires supporting factors; (iii) micro-level change takes longer to implement than macro-level change; (iv) transition affects teachers’ remuneration and status, and (v) international organisations’ involvement in mediating conflict resolution agreements can have consequences for education.

Analysis of the data illustrates the influence of various ideologies on primary education in Bosnia. In particular, religion and nationalism constantly challenge other forces for control of education. The study suggests that many models of educational reform do not take account of multi-dimensional contexts, where political and economic transition is accompanied by civil war and the transition to a new nation state. The analysis demonstrates that micro-level change in education does not always take time to implement, particularly in highly-centralised systems, and that micro-level change can occur prior to macro-level change. Economic transition is shown to impact on teachers’ remuneration. This has a negative effect on teachers’ status, exacerbated when the political and social context reduces the value accorded teachers. This has consequences for teacher recruitment and quality. The study also suggests that international organisations’ mediation in conflict resolution can impact on education. In Bosnia the evidence indicates that the political structure created has hindered decision-making and contributed to the ethnic division of the country.

This study contributes to knowledge on educational developments in central and eastern Europe by providing an analysis of the Bosnian experience. It also contributes to literature on educational reform and questions existing models. The study also adds to literature on the role of international organisations in the globalisation of educational provision.

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