Meaningful Contacts among Peers Help Contribute To Long-Term Stability and Peace

In an effort to strengthen local mechanisms that ensure an ongoing public and individual commitment to more inclusive, integrative and tolerant schools and communities, this month the OSCE Mission to BiH completes a series of over 50 events aimed at promoting respect for diversity and a culture of tolerance.

The events were as diverse as the participants, including a combination of workshops, vocational excursions, working meetings and cultural heritage visits, with the aim to create meaningful opportunities for bringing children, their parents and teachers together. There cannot be long-term stability in this country if children, parents and teachers do not meet their peers from other communities or do not know anything about them.
"The work ahead is difficult but essential for the next generation of citizens of BiH, to claim their rightful place in the European Union and the world. Today's children are tomorrow's voters and leaders", stated Claude Kieffer, Director of the OSCE Education Department, noting that what children learn within and especially outside the walls of a school together with their peers will greatly affect what kind of a country they choose to build and would like to live in.
"Every day citizens are bombarded with negative messages from the media that incite divisions, anger and fear towards "the other". In such an environment, it is no wonder that the youth of this country often do not see their future within the borders of BiH", said Valery Perry, Deputy Director of OSCE Education Department. She added that this initiative is aimed at showing that in spite of the negative political climate, citizens have much in common.

Similar activities will continue across BiH during the 2009/2010 school year, focusing on building bridges between and within divided communities.