BIRN BiH Offers Memorial Fund Use of Database for Education

20. May 2022.13:36
BIRN is making its database of established facts about the war available to the Memorial Fund for used in schools to counter disinformation and war crimes denial.

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Haris Rovčanin, author of the database, at the panel “Judicially established facts without a place in the curricula”. Photo: BIRN BiH

The Sarajevo Cantonal Memorial Fund’ and BIRN BiH have signed a memorandum of partnership within which the content of BIRN’s database of judicially established facts will be seconded for use in education as well as by other visitors to the Memorial Fund facilities.

The database of judicially established facts will be developed within the project “Establishing an Interactive Educational Database on the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, which is financed by the United Nations Democracy Fund, UNDEF.

This project aims to create sources of fact-based information that can be used for educational and information purposes and so contribute to the fight against disinformation and improvement of media literacy.

The multimedia database will serve future researchers, students, journalists, but also teachers and education ministries who can draw on the material for curricula, as well as for methodologies on how to teach about the past war.

Besides the database, BIRN BiH has also made available the complete content of a video series, “44 months under siege”, containing testimonials by Sarajevo citizens who survived the 1992-5 siege.

The Memorial Fund will use the multimedia content and display it within its activities and programmes, presenting it to groups from elementary and secondary schools, as well as to other visitors to its facilities.

Expressing thanks to BIRN BiH, Memorial Fund director Ahmed Kulanic said he was sure the content would be used in the best possible way.

“We are proud that the Memorial Fund is recognized as a relevant partner when it comes to cooperation within which we are entrusted with valuable scientific research projects.

“We have the capacity and ways to adequately present all the materials to broader public, especially to younger generations through tailor made educations we organize,” Kulanic said.

Denis Dzidic, executive director of BIRN BiH, said development of the multimedia database of judicially established facts, based on verdicts delivered by the Hague war crimes court, is one of the most important activities of BIRN BiH.

“This tool is exactly what will enable a new way to counter the denial and contestation of crimes. I hope the database will be used for educational purposes and, in particular, for working with young people. Cooperation with the Sarajevo Cantonal Memorial Fund will enable the content to reach a large number of school children,” he said.

International organizations have warned that some schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina are giving names to facilities, symbols and school events the names that glorify certain ethnic communities, wartime events and controversial figures. School premises are also used to promote wartime narratives.

BIRN BiH’s analysis of the content of history textbooks in schools in the Bosnian entities, with a focus on events right before and during the fall of Yugoslavia, as well as the 1992-95 war, shows that elementary graders are taught about those events differently. Judicially established facts are often ignored.

BIRN BiH’s goal was to create a database which would help the education ministries and teachers include judicially established facts in curricula.

From April 2021 to March 2023 material is being collected from Hague judgements, including judicially established facts which form the basis of this database, divided into the ten regions: Sarajevo and its surroundings; Eastern Herzegovina; Zenica Region; Central Bosnia; Doboj-Posavina Region; Eastern Bosnia; Srebrenica; Herzegovina Region; Krajina; Bijeljina-Zvornik Region.

On the 30th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo, BIRN BiH symbolically presented the first region at a panel discussion, “No Room for Judicially Determined Facts in Curricula”. As planned, the complete database will be available by the end of this year.

BIRN BiH will also publish ten short documentaries for each of the regions. In addition to conclusions from verdicts and incidents, they will also contain personal testimonials by witnesses, victims and survivors, giving support to countering denial and minimization of crimes and judicially established facts.

Lamija Grebo

This post is also available in: Bosnian