Serbs and Croats still segregated in Vukovar’s schools

Kristina Islentieva and Filip Rutko attend the same school. They have the same teachers. Yet they live in different worlds. They barely know each other. Serbian and Croatian children don’t go to class together in Vukovar: One group attends school in the morning, the other in the afternoon.

“Since we are in different shifts, we can actually only see each other at the weekend, or in passing when the Croatian shift enters the school building,” the 13-year-old Islentieva said, adding that it seems that youths are being prevented from “meeting and spending time together.”

Croatia’s official school policy stipulates that lessons in the eastern region must be delivered in two languages and both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. The program is a consequence of the “peaceful reintegration of eastern Croatia,” which formally ended in 1998.

Back then, politicians agreed to the program to better protect the cultural identity of the Serbian minority. Parents are free to choose which class their children attend. And they choose to separate. The students themselves appear to see it differently.

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(Photo: Srecko Matic/Deutsche Welle)