Sometimes, I cannot figure out at first, sometimes never, what the problem is. True, it cannot be said that journalists do not portray the essence of the problem, often already in the headline. The reader has an opportunity to inform himself without even opening the newspaper, since such headlines are at this point considered to be sufficiently attractive to warrant a position on the front page. Thus, we can learn about segregation among pupils, or about demands of parents regarding equal status for their children. It is easy to conclude from dramatic headlines, which have been drawing attention in newspapers for already one month, indicating the sad conditions in our society, that segregation or discrimination is the main problem. Big and solemn words, which imply serious accusations. Could it really be that today we live in a society in which pupils are by force separated based on their ethnicity?!
Of course, it is justified to be outraged regarding segregation and every ethical person would do the same, especially if given an opportunity to express their outrage in public. We all know what that means - just recall apartheid. Yet again, it has been proven that nationalist politics leads to creation of ethnic ghettos whose survival depends on fear and hatred of others. Children in this country start learning about that from the earliest childhood. Nevertheless, they do not learn that in school. In this case parents, as in many other situations, should be given most credit. Before we condemn state institutions and ruling political elites as the exclusive culprits responsible for ugly nationalism we must recall schools and parents. In political theory that is called the role and responsibility of the "civil society". Today we face the question what even an ideal school could do in the embrace of the civil society, which most definitely is not devoid of prejudice regarding others, and most likely has been burning with intolerance for a while.
Newspaper articles and news give the impression that parents are trying to wage a just battle against schools, state institutions that are extremely important for the national, as well as civic identity. Of course, only corrupted schools that endanger the rights of children are their targets. There is no doubt that parents want to make sure that their children obtain education they need. There is no doubt that parents want to make sure that their children have the same rights as children from other ethnic groups. That much we can discern from the news about public protests of unhappy parents. It is also clear that no one publicly advocates segregation - forced separation of pupils. However, frequently it remains unclear which parents are complaining and what do they actually want. The abstract "civic key" in which these news are reported frequently interferes with the ability to open this issue in the public domain. Consequently, most of the time we get the wrong impression that parents oppose nationalist policies and their harmful effects on schools while demanding joint "civic" education. However, in most cases equal rights they demand are actually understood as national equality, as equal collective rights. Thus, in parents, and sometimes quite a lot of skill is needed to figure that out from a cryptic article, we recognize members of a nation that is dissatisfied by its status and for that blames politicians from a different nation who have taken over the school. The conflicts sometimes unite two nations against the third. The struggle for equal rights in schools today is an inter-ethnic conflict - because the chief demand of parents is that their children be educated in schools based on their national educational program. After national awakening our parents have become aware that schools are the most important national institutions. As we can see, they are wholeheartedly fighting for the control of that institution.
Also, the media have the tendency to hide these conflicts until the balance of power in them can be discerned: who is majority and who minority. It should not be obscured that mostly the struggle for minority rights is involved. It is totally wrong, and politically it can be fateful, to claim that the struggle for minority rights is nothing but the struggle for "civic equality". That attitude - and not insistence on minority issues, as is commonly believed - is precisely what works for nationalists, among other because the impression is being created that in those societies where a majority dominates all aspects of public life "civic equality" has already been achieved. It remains to be seen, and results could be hugely disappointing for many, to what extent schools that do not face angry parents are truly "civic". Minorities should be asked about that, those small, tiniest minorities whose public voice is most frequently stifled. That this is the case, we could convince ourselves recently in a very striking manner during the recent visit to Bosnia-Hercegovina by Dimitrije Rupel. Then, in the context of the importance of the education, from the Slovene who presides over the OSCE we could hear for many outrageous and extremely strange reason for the destruction of Yugoslavia: the problem of joint core educational programs. Over the past years we have heard all sorts of explanations, but now we have finally heard the suppressed and typical attitude of a minority with respect to the former federal Yugoslavia.
Therefore, both discrimination and segregation in education can be viewed in a different light as well. In order to have true segregation it must be enforced. The existence of some fifty schools with dual [national Bosniak-Croat] educational programs indicates that that is mostly not the case, at least as far as the will of parents is concerned. For starters we must understand the meaning of the discrimination against which parents are fighting. If Simone De Beauvoir could claim that segregation immediately leads to discrimination, here we have just the opposite case. Segregation appears as a solution for discrimination, and the reasoning behind that solution roughly goes like this: if we cannot have education in our mother tongue, if we cannot study our national history, language, literature in school, and if we cannot be taught by our teachers, then we'll have our own school! Therefore, in this case the struggle against discrimination is not the struggle for bringing pupils together. We should understand the paradoxical message echoing from the new educational system: we prefer segregation to discrimination!