“Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in the region and across the European Union states and candidate countries to refuse participation in the Erasmus+.”
It was a true Friday 13th that day. The title above was the breaking news in the country, presented in all media: print, web, TV. Even in our coffee-and-chitchat culture, this topic was widely discussed as the result of a disappointment with the government’s decision. The information that academic community of Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be a part of this huge education programme, worth 14,7 billion €, was definitely “a thunder from the clear sky” for many who saw this as an opportunity to bring educational colour into the grey reality we are faced with.
Basically, the complicated government system of this country, developed by the 1995 Dayton Agreement (formed rather as a way to stop aggression, and not as a rightful Constitution for one country) allowed for decisions such this one. The reasons for this are many. From the fear of the destabilization of theentity power in the country (as if it was “milk and honey flowing” for the people that live here so far) to the fact that people might see and learn something outside these big, grey, border walls and decide to, God forbid, implement the knowledge here to cause the change towards something better. The politicians decided that it is better for them to reject one more EU project, instead of focusing on its implementation and sustainability. The politicians who should act on behalf of the people, to provide a better life and a prosperous future for the citizens.
As one of my colleagues said in his article: “European Commission, with its budget for scholarships, offered to make dreams into reality, and to allow this society, especially the students, to broaden their views, to give them a chance of a study or work practice, to lift their goals high, so that in the next years they can become the pillars of the country, leading it to a better tomorrow.” This was a unique opportunity to be a part of the European Academic programme without even being a Member state. And we let it slip through our hands in exchange of collecting a few “election points” by the politicians, preparing for the next elections period.
To conclude, this will be a scientific and education isolation, caused by the individuals who presented their personal interests as a national interest. How long will it last and how long will the European Union wait for the “sleeping Bosnia and Herzegovina” to wake up and smell the reality? … I guess we will only get to know it when a new opportunity comes to be grabbed or missed.
However, is this country really asleep? Protests, at least on internet have started. An on-line petition for immediate inclusion into the Erasmus+ is collecting signatures, former scholarships holders have already explained the benefits of the exchange programs, students from both entities gave their statements on the importance of participation in Erasmus. Could this be the revolution we have been awaiting for almost 20 years?
To be continued … I guess.