Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has fewer and fewer students enrolled in primary and secondary schools. Last year, there were as many as 93.000 fewer than ten years earlier, which can, for example, be compared to the size of Zenica, a city in central BiH.
That the situation is alarming is also confirmed by the teacher Narcisa Hotovic-Gluhacevic, who 21 years ago in the vicinity of Gorazde, in the east of BiH, had twice as many students as today.
Two students are enrolled in the elementary school where she works this year.
A dizzying drop in the number of students
Narcisa Hotovic-Gluhacevic points out that the schools are renovated and equipped, and that they have professional staff. The place where she works, she says, is not far from the city, but the departure of citizens is evident every day.
”The times are such that probably because of the overall situation in the country, everyone thinks they need to go somewhere. For that reason, schools are closing and I am afraid that closing schools will close our village as well,” points out the teacher from Gorazde, Hotovic-Gluhacevic.
According to the research of the Union for Sustainable Return and Integration of BiH, about 170.000 people left BiH in 2021, which is almost equal to the population of Banja Luka, the second-largest city in BiH.
The number of students in primary and secondary schools in BiH has decreased by 20 percent in the last ten years, according to data from the BiH Agency for Statistics.
Experiences of educators
Esmina Isakovic is a primary school teacher who has been working in a Sarajevo primary school for 30 years.
She says that the reduction in the number of students is an evident process that has been going on for three decades, but in recent years it has taken on worrying dimensions.
”There were over 1.000 students in my school before the war. We even had a branch school,” Isakovic points out and explains that today the school is attended by about 560 children, while the regional school has long been closed due to the lack of children.