Karin Völkner, Council of Europe Bilateral assistance activities of the Council

Karin Völkner, Council of Europe
Bilateral assistance
activities of the Council
of Europe in Bosnia
and Herzegovina in the
educational field
The Council of Europe
in brief
The Council of Europe
was the first political
founded in Europe after
the Second World War1. It aims to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the
rule of law; to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe’s
cultural identity and diversity; to seek solutions to problems facing European society2
and to help consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative
and constitutional reform.
For the first 40 years of its existence, the Council of Europe remained an exclusively
Western European organisation, where its membership was concerned, if not its areas
of activity. Since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 the Organisation has undergone
profound changes and has been faced with new challenges, namely to further the
cause of continent-wide peace and stability.
The Council of Europe gained fresh political impetus through summit meetings of
heads of state and government in 1993 and 1997. In Vienna in 1993, the political
leaders of the 32 states which were members of the Organisation at the time
determined a course of action for enlargement. In Strasbourg in 1997, with 40
member states, political leaders adopted a new Plan of Action based on four broad
The Council of Europe was founded on 5 Mai 1949 in London by 10 countries (Belgium, Denmark,
France, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom). At the end of
1989 it had 23 member states, all West European. Today it counts 43 member states; the latest
countries to join (in 2001) were Armenia and Azerbaijan.
themes: democracy and human rights, social cohesion, security of citizens and
education for democracy and cultural diversity. This roughly defines the priorities of
the Council’s ongoing programme of work.
The Council of Europe gives a shifting geographical priority to regions of greatest
need in terms of democratic security – currently the Caucasus and Southeast Europe.
Education in the Council of Europe3
The Council of Europe faces the major political challenge of supporting its new, panEuropean membership in their long-term preparation for European integration. This
membership is culturally very diverse and extremely unequal in material resources.
There are also wide differences in areas such as e.g. environmental protection or
health care, as well as in the invisible conventions of a democratic culture.
The challenge for education in the newer member states is not only to create the
preconditions for rapid economic growth but also for a fully democratic society.
Education is the central tool of policy in making up the knowledge deficits, and
capitalising on the knowledge strengths, which increasingly determine the fate of
nations as well as the prospects of individuals. But in spite of strong traditions,
education in most post-communist countries faces severe structural problems.
The Council of Europe can play an important role in giving sustained help to the
newer member states. In education, as in other fields, it possesses:
a common fund of shared values;
an evolving body of standards and good practice translating these values into
practical policy (the aquis);
institutional mechanisms, especially the specialised committees and the annual
work programme, allowing all members to take part as equals in the
development, renewal and dissemination of the aquis.
Some issues : Racism, intolerance, discrimination against minorities, drug abuse, social exclusion,
environmental pollution, corruption and organised crime. Questions of bioethics are also addressed.
At the 20th session of their Standing Conference in October 2000, in Cracow, the
European Ministers of Education recognized that the traditional multilateral
cooperation and the new (bilateral, regional) assistence activities are now
complementary pillars of a single multilateral project.
Education for democratic citizenship (EDC) in the Council of Europe: broad
definition and activities
It is especially since the second summit of heads of state and government in 1997 that
education for democratic citizenship is considered a Council of Europe priority. From
February 1997 - September 2000 the Council of Europe carried out an exploratory
project on EDC.
The Council of Europe defines EDC as a multi-facetted concept, touching on political,
social, economic, cultural, environmental and ethical aspects of modern democratic
societies. A process of lifelong learning, education for democratic citizenship can take
place in formal, non-formal and informal learning environments, e.g. schools and
universities, families, workplaces or grassroots projects. EDC aims at the active and
responsible participation of the individual in democratic life, at the creation of
innovative partnerships between different democratic institutions/groups, at equity,
solidarity, and social cohesion. EDC policies foster alternative and participatory
pedagogical initiatives in schools and other learning contexts.
The 1997-2000 EDC project was multi-dimensional and holistic and had as its
issues :
communication, conflict resolution, democratisation of community relations and the
« Partnerships for Educational Renewal », Annual report 2000-2001, prepared by the Secretariat (CCHER (2001) 37 / CC-ED (2001) 38 rev.
Follow-up EDC activities (2001-2004 programme) have moved beyond the
exploratory realm and focus on EDC policy development, networking and
communication and awareness aising.4
Since 1996, bilateral assistance activities have been carried out in Bosnia and
Herzegovina in higher education, human rights and citizenship education and teacher
training. Many of them belong in the larger framework of education for democratic
citizenship and human rights in the Council of Europe. In the following, I would like
to present two particular examples:
the development of the human rights education curriculum and introductory
teacher training in the two political entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the
Federation and the Republika Srbska, which took place in 2001 as a
cooperative effort of the two Education Ministries, Civitas BiH, the Center for
Civic Education, Calabasas, USA, and the Council of Europe;
(international protectorate within BiH), which could serve as a model for
possible follow up activities to the above training programme.
The human rights education curriculum and teacher training in Bosnia and
Herzegovina in 2001
In September 2001 a new programme entitled “Education for Democracy and Human
Rights” was introduced into all secondary schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
replacing the subject “National Defence”. The process of change from a subject like
“National Defence” with its military overtones to human rights education was an
important step in the democratisation and the building of a human rights culture in
Bosnia and Herzegovina. The introduction of the new subject followed
For further information, please consult the Council of Europe’s EDC website at
a major comprehensive agreement of the National Conference of Education
Ministers5 on long-term education development and reform (May 2000) in
Bosnia and Herzegovina,
an initial curriculum development process, undertaken by the Center for Civic
Education/Civitas BiH in cooperation with the Ministries of Education, with
contributions from Council of Europe experts,
a teacher training activity, facilitated by Civitas and the Council of Europe.
The content of the “Education for Democracy and Human Rights” programme focuses
on introducing students to the key ideas which underpin democracy, in particular
examining the constitution, law, the idea and practice of civic virtue, individual rights
and the common good as well as looking at issues relating to international relations
and organisations. The key methodologies promoted in the materials are based on
interactive teaching methodologies that encourage students’ active participation in
their learning.
The teacher training
The teacher training activity - parallel one-week introductory courses for
approximately 300 teachers all over the country - aimed at preparing teachers for the
introduction of the new programme among third year secondary school students (age
17 years approx.). The teachers involved in the training, some of whom formerly
taught civil defence, while others were teachers of philosophy, history or sociology,
clearly expressed the need for and the value of such a programme. The training groups
were cross-community, ie. members of different ethnic communities participated and
cooperated. It was pointed out many times by experts, organisers and participants that
this kind of cooperation would not yet have been possible a few years ago. It seemed
that a crucial moment in time had arrived when common activities of the different
communities were once again possible.
The participating teachers had a number of useful suggestions for a further
development of the democracy and human rights education programme. Three ideas
The National Conference of Education Ministers was formally established in 1999. Since then the
Council of Europe has co-chaired monthly meetings with the OHR (Office of the High Representative).
were particularly interesting as they underline the teachers’ great interest in and
commitment to this programme/school subject and their search for the greatest
possible balance between primary and secondary education, theory and practice and
BiH reality and international input.
Firstly, the teachers wished for the development of an introductory programme in the
first and second year of high school in order to be able to build upon work done at
primary level and to achieve the greatest possible continuity in the subject. This issue
of developing a progressive curriculum in Education for Democracy and Human
Rights will have to be looked into during the follow up discussions.
Further, the teachers considered the introduction of a strong “action component” (such
as, e.g. Civitas’ “Project Citizen”6 ) necessary to balance the theory and practice of
Education for Democracy and Human Rights and to give students the opportunity to
develop their sense of agency, which is a vital aspect of being citizens. The suggestion
was that a group of teachers develop this action component during the pilot year
Finally, the teachers wished for the inclusion in the materials of a focus on the
Council of Europe and its role in human rights protection and promotion – not only to
improve their students’ grasp of factual knowledge about the specialised work of an
intergovernmental organisation, but also because education for democratic citzenship
and human rights in the Council has various different dimensions (political, social,
historical, economic, cultural, etc.). Taking on the life-long learning approach and
holistic view of EDC could help to expand students’ horizons even beyond the
traditional civic and political sphere.
The 2001 programme has only been the start of a curriculum development process. By
definition, Education for Democracy and Human Rights must be developmental,
dynamic and open to revision as teachers become more familiar with the
methodologies and as circumstances in BiH change. In the future, the inclusion of
The comprehensive agreement was signed by the Minister and Deputy Minister of Education in the
Federation, and the Minister of Education in the Republika Srbska.
other dimensions that are all important components of citizenship education, such as
equality, gender, power, poverty, and intercultural education should be envisaged.7
State and civil society and the role of the Council of Europe
The teachers made a point about a focus on a European perspective and on the
Council of Europe and human rights (education). This leads me to the question of
what the Council of Europe’s political role in the promotion of education for
democratic citizenship and human rights is and can be in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are different levels to be looked at, the local, the national and the international.
On the local level, some groups of teachers decided to create local associations of
EDC teachers, some suggested the creation of self-development and peer-support
groups. All underlined the need for further development in EDC methodologies.
These development groups should be accompanied by training and advice, not only
from local, but also from international trainers (not necessarily only from the
EDC or civic education teachers often face the risk of getting “isolated” in their
schools with their subject, which is often considered rather vague and is not always
taken as seriously as other subjects, e.g. Maths or languages. Training and
involvement of local and regional school authorities and headmasters is therefore
important so as to enlist their support for the endeavour and to help develop a
supportive culture in schools.
On the national level the cooperation between the Education Ministries, the Center for
Civic Education/Civitas BiH can be seen as an example of good practice in building
partnerships between state and civil society that work in and with the system and can
lead to systemic change. The State will need to continue to support the initiative,
politically, financially and “morally”. It will also be important that the State regard the
NGO community as an important resource for EDC and in ensuring a broad and
balanced EDC/human rights education curriculum.
« Project Citizen » : pupils examine a particular policy issue and make recommendations to relevant
The role of the Council of Europe, on the international level, is manifold. The
Organisation will continue to encourage the Ministries of Education in BiH to provide
further technical, financial and political support to EDC activities in schools. The
Council will keep underlining the importance it attaches to the application of
implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In cooperation with the Ministries, the
Council is in a position to support and accelerate the process of establishing a wellfunctioning in-service teacher training system in BiH.
The following chapter about the Council of Europe’s teacher training activity in
%UþNR LV DQ H[DPSOH RI WUDLQLQJ WHDFKHUV RI all subject areas in human rights
education in a longer-term programme. Experiences and knowledge gained from this
programme could serve towards developing a model for follow up training activities
to the Civitas/CoE programme.
Herzegovina. Because of its strategic importance for the three major ethnic
communities in BiH, no agreement could be reached to which entity it would belong.
The Dayton accords put it under international administration, the OHR (Office of the
High Representative for BiH) is responsible for its administration.
The Council of Europe was instrumental in establishing a two-year programme of
World Bank) and decided to engage in a long-term process of in-service teacher
training (which started in 2000). The issue of long-term involvement was particularly
important as there had been a problem of discontinuity where the activities of
international organisations in BiH were concerned. International employees used to
leave and be replaced after short terms. Consequently, the organisations could not
Karen O’Shea, Report to the Council of Europe on Teacher Training Activity in Bosnia and
develop into “learning organisations”, and no stable relationships with partners in the
country were created.
The Council’s programme centred around an initiative undertaken by a group of
committed teachers, pedagogues and psychologists in this district. They set up a
District Advisory Educational Committee8, which had as its objective the creation of
been the site of horrible war crimes. The integrated school was built on “no man’s
land” between Serb and Bosnian housing areas, and it was chosen to become a
regional teacher training centre.
The Council of Europe organised four training seminars in 2000 and four in 2001 for
teachers of all subjects, working both in primary and secondary education. From the
beginning, the teachers from the three major ethnic communities, Bosnian Croats,
Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Serbs participated in the training. One small core
group of teachers participated in and accompanied new participants through all
training sessions. It was probably also due to this specific element of a core group,
whose members developed increasing expertise and advisory capacities, that a very
active local programme of self-development and training activities has started.
As in the Civitas/Council of Europe programme, the different ethnic communities
cooperated very well. This was probably due, not only to the years that have passed
since the war, but also to the preparatory work done and the long-term commitment
made by the Council of Europe. During the cooperation it was certainly beneficial that
in BiH references to the external, but commonly accepted framework of the Council
of Europe could contribute to diminishing tensions between ethnic communities.
School education and society and the culture of teaching9
fact that in former Yugoslavia, a high standard of school education had been
maintained, of which experimental classes and interactive teaching had been part.
Herzegovina, July 2001 (unpublished)
This Committee has, in the meantime, been dissolved by the OHR.
However, today’s mix of teachers, who had joined the profession in pre-war times,
during or after the war, had very varied levels of qualifications and needs.
The trainers were also aware of differences in cultural/societal backgrounds and
approaches to teaching between themselves and the participants and of the need to
take these differences into account and integrate them sensitively into the training.
They underlined, for example, the sense of community which they encountered (and
saw as a great strength in society) throughout the trainings in a less urban and less
individualistic society than their own social backgrounds. As they were careful to
point out repeatedly in the trainings, the in-service teacher training did not mean a
transfer of knowledge, attitudes and skills from western to southeast European
societies, but a process of mutual learning.
Their and the CoE’s mission – training teachers to teach in the spirit of human rights “is, in sociological and ultimately also in economic terms, a contribution to
modernisation. But this is, as it has been elsewhere, an ambivalent process. On the
one hand, we hope this will weaken nationalist ties on all sides. On the other hand, we
should be aware of the strengths in society that should be preserved”10.
On several occasions the trainers found that their “western” style of conducting the
teacher training, did not meet the expectations and experiences of the participants.
The trainers tended at first to let participants decide how to carry out a task. However,
the participants expected precise instructions and examples of concrete teaching
methods or materials. The more concrete the instructions were, and the more carefully
the examples were selected, the more meaningful they were to the participants.
Summarising this point, the trainers said, “we have always understood our teacher
training seminars to set examples – in teaching on, and particularly in human rights.
Which topics we treat, and how we treat them, must serve as a model for the
participants’ own work in the classroom. Our participants did not realize this
immediately, but when they did, they appreciated it immensely and their notes
showed that they took our examples very seriously,…
Rolf Gollob, Peter Krapf, Report on the seminar on 22-26 May 2000 (unpublished) ; page 4
We took this as an expression of a more authoritative, teacher-centred tradition of
teaching and learning, but we think it should not be judged in any way. It is a reality,
and needs to be taken into account in teacher training. Rather, learning by imitating –
i.e. creatively adapting – examples of successful teaching is an approach that is being
rediscovered in our countries,…”11
7KH %UþNR LQ-service teacher training is just a small stable element in a very fragile
situation. A strong political will on the part of the State and many more and
continuing national and international efforts will be needed in order to overcome the
structural problems of a seriously underfinanced education system and their
consequences, e.g. extremely low pay for and very low status of teachers. It is a
legacy of the former system that in all ex-Yugoslavian states there is no pre-service
teacher training. In the interest of long-term sustainability of Education for
Democracy and Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the issue of pre-service
teacher education will have to be addressed.
The priority task for the Conference of Education Minister in Bosnia and Herzegovina
is to ensure that the outlines of an educational reform strategy aimed at steering the
system upon a course of integration and equal opportunities are expanded and
implemented. The Council of Europe continues to support this process through a
range of activities.
A final point on bilateral assistance work
International cooperation is a process of mutual learning and assistance activities are
more than an extension of unchallengeable multilateral standards. They constantly
contribute feedback and suggestions to the common reflection. The multilateral
consensus will often be confirmed in the confrontation with the reality of the new
Europe. Sometimes it will be creatively challenged, not least in Bosnia and
Rolf Gollob, Peter Krapf, Report on the seminar on 22-26 May 2000 (unpublished) ; page 7