Publicly Funded Islamic Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Amina Isanovic Hadziomerovic [+]
University of Sarajevo
Religious education in public schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was introduced following the collapse of the Communist political regime in the early 1990s. From its early beginnings it was designed as a confessional subject, while the alternative non-confessional subject was introduced only subsequently. Over the course of two decades and a half of its existence, RE was subject to dynamic public debates on its status in a multicultural and multi-religious society like the Bosnian one. Despite the changing public opinion on RE, the attendance rate in all denominations is still high and the level of teacher professionalization is increasing. The right to religious instruction in public schools is regulated by the Framework Law on Primary and Secondary Education (2003) and Law on Religious Freedom and Legal Status of Churches and Religious Communities (2004). The responsibility for Islamic Religious Education (IRE) is divided between the state and the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ICBH). This means that the ICBH is in charge of curricula design and textbooks which need to be approved by the corresponding Ministry of Education. On the other hand, RE teachers are paid and hired by the Ministry of Education, while the ICBH issues teaching licence and monitors teachers’ professional development. IRE teacher education is subject to general standards the for teaching profession, which normally require a university degree that can be pursued at one of three schools for Islamic educators, all of them affiliates of state universities. This paper summarizes key trends in the development of the model of RE adopted in Bosnian schools, with special focus on IRE, and presents the main debates and controversies related to this issue.