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Interview

Visit by The Minister for Education Science And Youth Of Canton Sarajevo Elvira Kazazovic, 26.06.2015.

 

INTERVIEW: MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND YOUTH OF SARAJEVO CANTON (KS) ELVIR KAZAZOVIĆ

 

By: Tarik MOĆEVIĆ

SARAJEVO, June 28 (ONASA) – Minister for Education, Science and Youth of Sarajevo Canton (KS) Elvir Kazazović in an interview for ONASA talks about the priorities during his four-year term, reform legislation, cooperation with the Embassy of Turkey in BiH, the arrest of principal of “Tenth Elementary School” Ilidža Sudo Lavić, and other topics.

ONASA: In March this year you were appointed Minister for Education, Science and Youth of Sarajevo Canton. What are your priorities during the term in office?

KAZAZOVIĆ: Due to the difficult financial situation, priority is first and foremost the rationalization of resources, which was agreed by the whole Cantonal Government. It is required so the system could survive and in order not to enter another difficult phase, which involves delays and pay cuts, layoffs and the like. We have analyzed the budget of Canton and found a number of anomalies. First of all, 91 percent of the budget is directed to the payment of salaries and allowances. It was imperative that something needs to be done.
We noted the statistics that we have a large number of employees who are not required in the system. However, it would be very unpopular to lay off these workers, so we opted for a system of natural selection. So each year from 100 to 150 workers retire, and within four years, which is the duration of the mandate, we should unload the system. It would allow an annual surplus of about 10 million BAM, and would thus solve the most difficult task, the financial survival of the budget of the Canton and the Ministry.
The second direction, which is directly tied to the profession, is the reform of the legislation. We began with the Adult Education Act, which should be adopted by September. It is already completed in a draft form, it passed the public hearing, and now it is being aligned with the guidelines from the state level. We had a round table with all partners. The criticism is very positive, partners consider that it is clearly the most quality law for education of adults compared to similar laws in other cantons. In addition, we also prepared a consolidated text of the law on primary education. We have formed working groups which will work on the legal details, rules and the like.
Our partners are the school principals, the Union and the Council of Parents. Since they all have different interests, we focus on finding the basic common factors. We hope that we’ll manage to make a good system. In September, we should begin the reform of the curricula. Agency at the state level is already working on it, and we, in cooperation with them, will also work on reforms. We hope that for the next school year we will have reformed curricula.
We have some serious objections of parents and students that the material is too extensive, that grades need to be repeated and the like. Even the union came out with the idea to bring back the eight-year school system back. However, such a decision is on the state level, but we will conduct talks with representatives of other cantons. Basically, the initiative is there.

ONASA: Preparation of the Adult Education Act in KS is ongoing, in cooperation with relevant educational and economic bodies in Federation of BiH and NGOs. In which phase of development is this docment and what new things will the Law bring when it comes to securing schooling, training and retraining of adult unemployed?

KAZAZOVIĆ: In current situation you can not acquire necessary competencies in the formal education to be able to immediately enter the work process. It is necessary, first of all because of the development of new technologies, to work on retraining or additional training, and introduce workers to new jobs and provide them with the possibility of direct labor in the economy.
The interest has been greatest among entrepreneurs, many of whom have the need to make a re-training of personnel. All those who meet the requirements will be able to access non-formal education. Employees of public entities will be able to undergo retraining with the consent of the Government and the Ministry. We hope to thereby significantly improve the education and training of adults.
First of all we have a responsibility towards the Roma population, whose members generally do not finish school regularly, but only as adults. The new law will enable them further education. It will also enable all interested parties to gain education through regular formal schooling. In Munich, for example, one third of the population each year goes through this prequalification. The new legislation will enable the same to the citizens of Sarajevo Canton.

ONASA: You have recently signed a Memorandum of Cooperation and understanding with the president of the association “Give us a Chance” Ines Kavalec, and the Protocol of Cooperation with president of the association “DUGA” Anka Izetbegović, in order to improve the process of education and upbringing of children with learning disabilities in the schools of KS. What do these documents bring and how will they influence the improvement of status of students with learning disabilities?

KAZAZOVIĆ: Currently the situation is such that inclusive education came into regular classes. However, it is only formally, as we currently do not have personnel trained for teaching children with developmental disabilities. The largest partner, as an alternative to this process, in addition to our special schools for children with special needs “Vladimir Nazor” and “Mjedenica”, are the NGOs. They give us a lot of help through their projects.
First of all, they help us in educating staff because in KS we do not have any higher education institution that educates staff to work with children with special needs. We made the initiative toward the Faculty of Philosophy to open the study program, for example something like in Tuzla, where they could train such staff through regular training. Until that happens, we use alternative solutions of training with NGOs.

ONASA: Cooperation Agreement between the Ministry and Turkish Embassy in BiH of 2013/2014 started the process of introduction of Turkish language into the primary schools of KS, and you also mentioned other forms of cooperation. Which forms of cooperation are those and in which way can the cooperation with Embassy of Turkey improve the education process in KS?

KAZAZOVIĆ: Based on the signed Agreement on Cooperation between the Ministry and the Embassy of Turkey in BiH, in 2013/2014 school year began the process of introducing the Turkish language in the elementary schools where currently five teachers hold classes, for which the Embassy of Turkey in the past two years has paid all necessary fees. According to the draft amendments to the KS Budget for 2015 mentioned teachers were introduced in the financing system.
Furthermore, in certain schools in Canton students listen to some classes in Turkish language. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey have developed economic, cultural and sports cooperation, and I think that the cooperation in the education sector is particularly important for relations between the two countries.

ONASA: Principal of the “Tenth Elementary School” Ilidža Sudo Lavić was arrested not long ago under suspicion of sexual act with a minor. Can the Ministry adopt certain mechanisms that would prevent similar cases in the future?

KAZAZOVIĆ: Unfortunately, we were not aware of the events because we have not received any notifications, and I think that’s the biggest problem. We’re trying to find a preventive mechanism, and we are the closest to launching an anonymous reporting mechanism for similar or any improper conduct of members of the teaching staff in schools. I hope that we will thereby stimulate the reports of such events, because I think that failure of reporting is the biggest problem, and that without it we can not approach the process of solving this problem.

ONASA: The Council for the protection of vital interests of the FBiH Constitutional Court recently declared as unconstitutional the Proposed Law on Textbooks and Teaching Materials for Primary and Secondary Schools in Canton 10. The Council discussed it at the request by Serb Caucus in the Assembly of the Canton 10 because, according to the proposal of the disputed law, textbooks would not be printed in the Serbian language and Cyrillic script. What is the situation in KS schools when it comes to equality of the constituent peoples, and are similar appeals, in your opinion, possible in KS?

KAZAZOVIĆ: When it comes to this, we are trying to establish a coordination mechanism at FBiH level which, however, did not include four cantons, among which is Canton 10. At the entity level there is work on a system “one subject – one textbook”. In Canton Sarajevo we strive to ensure the equality of peoples, although the textbooks are not printed in Cyrillic script in the KS as well. For now, however, there are no objections, and if any arise in the future, we will listen to them and decide as they come. (end)