These fierce reactions of citizens and politicians were mostly prompted by "double schools" in Hercegovina-Neretva Canton. The start of the school year provided an opportunity that the public learn a few things about cases of ethnic segregation of pupils in other regions as well.
However, the general impression is that these are excesses and that in most schools ethnicity is not an issue.
Isn't it close to a miracle that in a divided country in which leading politicians who care so much about their own nations that they cannot agree about anything, in which we are practically still in a middle of a war, waged with "other means", there are so many schools in which pupils are not segregated based on their ethnicity?
There is no doubt that there are many excellent professionals in education, exemplary teachers coming from all three "constituent nations", people who due to their professional ethics are not prepared to sow the seed of hatred among the youth. Perhaps our schools are the last line of defense in front of the plague of inter-ethnic intolerance?
Still, it would be highly na´ve to believe in something like that. It is more likely that the ethnic issues in those schools where they are apparently not important have been "solved" in the same way the overall ethnic issues were resolved in the country. Namely, so far the only solution that has brought peace and that works surprisingly well is to convert constituent nations into majorities and minorities.
I say surprisingly well because in fact we could not expect that the horrendous wartime machine of "ethnic cleansing" would be replaced by "voluntary movement" of population, which remained in minority. At this point it is completely clear that even a rough "reconstruction of pre-war ethnic distribution of population" has failed; the biggest hope that the worst wartime wounds would be healed turned out to be wrong. Instead of "minority returns", which is the term that from the start indicated a realistic attitude of the international community, we got an unexpected number of "minority departures".
Precisely the conversion of Bosniaks, Croat and Serbs to majorities and minorities hid the extent to which state and public institutions and territories have remained divided after the war.
Minorities are probably the biggest success of nationalist policies, but they at the same time successfully hide that horrible success, our new reality of divisions and discrimination. Precisely minorities maintain the semblance of existence of joint institutions, including schools. And these joint institutions, in turn, maintain the semblance of existence of nations with equal rights.
Minorities in the demographic sense of that word become in "joint institutions" constituent nations. Of course that is possible only due to their constitutional status, no doubt much more favorable than their actual status.
Besides the constitution, the so-called joint institutions are the most important tool in the creation and maintenance of the semblance of existence of constituent nations. True minorities must be "well represented" in these institutions so that the bitter reality of deep divisions does not become obvious. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to fill those positions by the specified number of political representatives. The notorious "keys" are having an increasingly hard time functioning.
The most important among joint institutions are the best example of the farce surrounding them. The fact that it is impossible to set up these institutions and get them going in a satisfactory fashion sheds light on all state institutions in the country.
We have been aware for a while, and especially in recent disputes regarding the police reform, that this country lacks a lasting and reliable political consensus, which would truly establish equal status of nations in all joint institutions. Consequently none of them has full democratic legitimacy needed by a country with three nations.
These entity institutions have a different, entity legitimacy. That is local legitimacy of a truly sovereign majority nation in principle supported by minority nations. Here multi-culturalism only functions as a totally unequal balance of power, only in those territories and institutions where constituent nations were converted into something that is significantly more and significantly less than the assumed measure of "equal presence" in real and public life. True, national issue hasn't been solved anywhere, but it is not a hot and disruptive issue in those cases where "those from other nations" have become a minority sufficiently sensible to realize their status and become cooperative in "joint institutions".
Schools as joint public institutions are not an exception. Let us consider those cases where they supposedly work successfully regarding the right of nations to education and use of their own language.
That usually happens in those places where a sufficiently large and stable difference between the majority and minority has been established. It is devastating to realize that the problem of the so-called un-integrated schools is still only relevant in the few remaining multi-cultural regions where we encounter two "majorities", neither one of whom is prepared to transform itself into a minority. Even more devastating realization is that new and by now more or less "adapted" minorities could have a much better status in joint institutions if they got the official, legal and constitutional, minority status.
Consequently, it is right to publicly raise one's voice against nationally "separated" schools, but it is hypocritical to make so much noise and portray that case as truly exceptional, thereby worthy of our outrage.
If this country does have a big problem in education than it should most vividly affect the universities. Precisely the quiet conscience of responsible politicians and citizen activists regarding the almost totally "ethnically clean" national universities speaks volumes about the general status of the solution of "vital national issues".