Bosnia and Herzegovina: Improving Cultural Understanding in Bosnia and Herzegovina


Two decades after the end of the Balkan wars, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a fragmented society, with divisions along ethnic lines keenly felt, particularly in the school system. The revival of culture, with its embrace of different value systems, traditions and beliefs, is crucial to BiH's future, and is imperative for the social, political and economic development of the country. The Joint Programme was designed to strengthen the sectors of culture and education as a way to promote sustainable development and an intercultural and tolerant society. 

In support of this overall objective, areas of focus included the policy/legal framework in the cultural and educational sectors, community-based interventions to increase cross-cultural understanding, promotion of the Cultural Industry Sector, and promotion of BiH’s unique multicultural identity. 

The programme consisted of four components aiming at mutual interaction and policy testing. The policy level intertwined with grass-roots actions and projects aiming at vertical integration across governmental layers. Strengthening strategic planning and the development of methodologies for data collection in the culture and education sectors directly strengthened local actors: municipalities, schools, civil society sector, cultural institutions, cultural industries, cultural workers and school children.

The programme's main achievements were:

  • A methodology for collecting cultural data was prepared and adopted. Cultural web-portals were created and an Action Plan for Implementation of the Strategy for Cultural Policy was also devised and adopted by the Council of Ministers, as well as the entity ministries and all cantonal ministries of culture. Extensive capacity development training was undertaken.
  • An analysis of existing curricula and school practices from an intercultural perspective was undertaken, together with mapping of teachers' competencies for intercultural and inclusive education. UNESCO Conventions ratified by BiH were publicised and a preliminary list of intangible cultural heritage was drawn up for the first time. The Programme also developed educational materials for teachers, children, parents and trainers, translated UNESCO's Guidelines for Intercultural Education, and developed and implemented cultural policies and legal frameworks. 
  • More than 40 projects to improve cross-cultural understanding in local communities were implemented. Student exchanges between different communities were facilitated and the important KAP benchmarking study was initiated, which analysed the status of cross-cultural relations and preparead a campaign to change attitudes. Some 84 primary school were found to have improved cross-cultural understanding as a result of the programme.
  • Projects were implemented and trainings held to encourage the role of culture in economic development, including: i) supporting innovation in handicrafts; (ii) improving access to culture; (iii) encouraging cultural tourism; and (iv) promoting arts for understanding. 
  • An analysis of cultural sensitivity in the media was undertaken and a methodology for media analysis was drawn up, with the aim of enabling government institutions to record changes (and possibly progress) in cultural sensitivity. A campaign promoting cross-cultural sensitivity in the education sphere was also initiated. 
  • Important symbols of multiculturalism in BiH were restored, including the Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka, the Orthodox Cathedral in Mostar and the Plehan Monastery near Derventa.


Click here for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 05 Dec 2008 - 30 Jun 2012
Net funded amount $8,000,000
Participating UN agencies UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF
National partners Ministry of Civil Affairs (MoCA), Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ministry of Education and Culture, 10 Cantonal Ministries of Education, Brcko District Department for Education, Agency for Pre-primary, Primary and Secondary Education, Pedagogical Institutes, Primary Schools, Universities; Institute for Education UK, Scienter Italy and Centre for Education Policy Serbia, ETF, CIVITAS BiH, EU TAC, Partner MCA; Municipalities of Bijeljina, Rudo, Jajce, Prijedor, Bihac, Gradiska, Srebrenik, Novo Sarajevo, Tesanj and Sokolac, Municipal Culture centres
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