Reimagining Education for Marginalized Girls and Boys during and post COVID-19 in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Within the frame of the joint UN Project “Reimagining Education for Marginalized Girls and Boys during and post COVID-19 in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, the Antenna in Sarajevo of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, and representatives of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Una-Sana Canton met in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina on 14 April 2021. In a bid to promote digitalization of the education system, two Information management system solutions were presented to the Ministry of Education of Una-Sana Canton.

The joint UN project ‘Reimagining Education for Marginalised Girls and Boys during and post COVID-19 in Bosnia and Herzegovina’ launched on 10 March 2021 at the UN House in Sarajevo is jointly implemented by UNICEF, UNESCO, ILO and UNV. The main objective is to improve public sector education in the 3 selected education administrative units (Republika Srpska entity, West-Herzegovina Canton and Una-Sana Canton).

To this end, the project is being implemented in close partnership with the Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska, the Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Information Society of Republika Srpska, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of West Herzegovina Canton and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Una-Sana Canton.

The project focuses on gender responsive approaches that are addressing learning losses and preventing dropouts, particularly of marginalized groups; offers skills for employability programmes; supports the teaching profession and teachers’ readiness; expands the definition of the right to education to include connectivity; remove barriers to connectivity; strengthen data and monitoring of learning; strengthen the articulation and flexibility across levels and types of education and training.

Approximately 500,000 children and youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been affected by country-wide closures of all education institutions since March 2020. The strain on pupils, students, teachers and schools is daunting. This crisis, however, is also an opportunity to re-think and reimagine education practices in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” declared Ingrid Macdonald, UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the occasion of the launch. “Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, are a basis for advancing reform, applying innovation and developing blended learning to ensure the resilience of the education sector.

A month ahead of the launch, the meeting in Bihac opened official consultations related to assisting education government authorities in Una-Sana Canton in establishing an Information Management (IM) system, aimed at enhancing the digitalization of the education process in Una-Sana Canton. The IM system is intended to allow for quality data management, as well as for delivery of distance learning in primary and secondary education.

The establishment of the Information Management system in Una-Sana Canton has for the objective more efficient administration of the education process throughout system-based collection of statistical and administrative data.” stressed Sinisa Sesum, Head of UNESCO Antenna in Sarajevo. “In addition, the integration of distance learning platform in this IM system will enhance the capacities for delivery of e-learning and blended learning during and beyond COVID-19 pandemic.”

The main objective of this intervention is to strengthen the capacities of the education system of Una-Sana Canton in delivering quality e-learning and blended learning, while building a more resilient system which can prevent, mitigate impacts and respond quickly to emergencies, particularly when addressing the needs of the most vulnerable students.

This is a very important project for the education system in Una-Sana Canton. Establishment of the IM system would enable more efficient strategic planning while offering an overview of the institutional and students’ individual learning outcomes”, noted Albijana Trnavci, Secretary of Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Una-Sana Canton.

The COVID-19 crisis has proved the importance of digitalization in schools as learning activities had to be shifted online. Through this project, all-important help will be given to authorities, education staff and students, not only to overcome the difficulties brought by this pandemic, but also to improve their teaching and learning conditions.