Thursday, November 12, 2009

UN & the Gen-Next of Ethnic Cleansers


"JBT Marg" is a prominent road in New Delhi, named after one of the founders of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), and the chief architect of 'Second Yugoslavia', Josip Bronz Tito. By some strange coincidence, both the road and the leader have come to represent lost causes.

JBT Marg was a recent witness to an ill conceived and poorly executed urban transportation project (BRT Corridor) and the NAM has now become defunct. But both these are mundane, irrelevant events compared to the tragedy that has unfolded after Tito's Yugoslavia splintered into half-a-dozen small republics :

  1. Socialist Republic of Bosnia & Herzegovina (Pop.- 3.8m)
  2. Socialist Republic of Croatia (4.7m)
  3. Socialist Republic of Madeconia (2.m)
  4. Socialist Republic of Montenegro (0.6m)
  5. Socialist Republic of Serbia (9.5m) [Also Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo (1.5m) and Socialsit Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (1.9m)]
  6. Socialist Repoublic of Slovenia (1.9m)

This piece is about the rather unusual role of the United Nations in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH).

In 2007, a UNDP/Oxford study found in BiH, the lowest levels of social trust ever measured. It was "virtually non-existent" - even lower than in Iraq.

BiH gained independence in 1992, and following the Dayton Peace Agreement of 1995, established one of the most compex political and administrative systems in Europe. The country has 3 presidents, 13 governance units, 13 parliaments, 150 ministries and 137 municipalities...all this in a country which has a third of Delhi's population!

In an attempt to keep the three main ethnic groups - Bosniaks, Serbs and Slovaks - in good humor, the country has three different education systems. The constitution states that "the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teachng in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions" (Article 2 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR).

Since there are not enough schools for three different systems, there are around 50 'two schools under one roof', where two different curricula are taught and children are segregated. Sometimes the children use segregated entrances, follow separate time schedules and with little or no interaction.

A study conducted by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), states that, "The current fractured system...is having the effect of creating three separate sets of citizens, each ignorant and distrustful of the "other".

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that such a system has been supported by the UN since 1992. In 2004 alone, $24million had been spent on 500 development projects in the country*.

Why is the UN investing millions of dollars to create the next generation of ethnic-cleansers' in the Balkans?

What are the lessons here for education reform in India?

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