Graduation Year


Publication Date

Spring 4-19-2011


During the summer of 2010, I was an intern at the US Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH). While I was there, I conducted fieldwork on the education system of BiH. I interviewed members of the government, officials at various NGOs and IOs, and students. As a result of these interviews, I was driven to continue this research once I returned to my university. This paper is the result. I would like to thank especially the students, the Embassy officials who supported my project, UNICEF Sarajevo, OSCE Sarajevo, SHL Sarajevo, and the professors who guided me along the way.


This paper considers how education systems in post-conflict settings impact reconstruction processes using the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) as an example. Three separate literatures are reviewed: post-conflict settings/reconstruction, reconciliation, and education systems. The paper analyzes the transitions, security, political, social and economic, which characterize post-conflict settings and reconstruction and argues that they must occur consequentially. Additionally, post-conflict reconstruction must always include both short and long-term goals in the peace agreement and provide for development of local capacity. In BiH these transitions were incomplete. The placement of a constitution in the peace agreement, without provisions for its revision, has also led to political gridlock. Reconciliation is then discussed as a central component of reconstruction. In the case of BiH, even though it has been 15 years since the conflict, reconciliation has not occurred and the society remains polarized according to the three ethnicities. The role of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in promoting reconciliation is criticized and indicators of the continued presence of ethnic tensions are reviewed. Lastly, the role of education systems in post-conflict reconstruction is discussed. Because education can play a critical role in reconciliation, and in reconstruction, education should be mandated in any peace agreement. Since education was not considered in the Dayton Peace Accords, the education system in BiH remains divided and this is impeding reconciliation. It is argued that, if education is not emphasized as a key component in peace agreements, then divided education systems will continue to prevent successful reconciliation, which in turn hinders the long-term success of reconstruction efforts.


International and Area Studies