Remarks at Business Council Meeting on Education

As we heard in the opening presentation, we expect that results from the PISA process will become a vital proof-point and guide for needed education reform in BiH. But explaining it to the broader audience without provoking a defensive response will require that we all speak with one voice.

The International Community supports the common goal of quality inclusive education which will effectively prepare students for the requirements of a changing 21st-century society in BiH, in Europe and globally – and for the job market in particular. This is a core task of any education system. Education can and should be a priority at both the national and local levels, and we look forward to supporting leaders, institutions, communities and families across BiH to make necessary changes, ensure quality education, and guarantee the rights of all students.

We are working with international community partners in the education coordination group to develop key messages on education that we will all be able to use in our communications with various stakeholders, and the wider public in BiH.

Once we have those messages ready, we will forward them to you, so we can be deliver a unified message; helping us do more together than we can alone.

As business people you all know the importance of efficiency. When 11 ministries of education are tasked with developing a modern curriculum that will give BiH students the necessary skills to succeed in the 21st century there is inevitable duplication and dissipation of resources and messages.

It is true that education is a complex and long-term process for which there are no quick fixes. What is needed is a sound long-term plan to transition BiH education from obsolete 20th century requirements to a new paradigm of developing critical thinking, comprehension and compassion for all human beings.

The International Community, and I personally, am ready and willing to facilitate consistent and productive dialogue among all stakeholders in BiH toward improving the BiH education system.

But our biggest challenge, and my opening question to you is: How to best coordinate efforts between numerous education ministries in the country, business leaders, the International Donor Coordination Group, and political leaders in BiH?

A suggestion I propose is that it does not make sense that one ministry is working with one donor to develop curriculum for vocational education and another ministry is working with another donor on the same task. It would be much more effective if we all sat down together and divided the job among us, each donor working in specific field, but sharing the results.