Training Students in BiH to Become Peer Mediators
The School and Peer Mediation in Bosnia and Herzegovina project is aimed at providing teachers and pupils in schools throughout the country with the skills to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner. This helps promote dialogue, tolerance, and equality in schools as well as in everyday life. ITF and its implementing partners, the Institute for Mediation Concordia and the European Centre for Dispute Resolution, carried out workshops, training sessions, and practical exercises that enhanced participants’ mediation techniques and skills for peaceful conflict resolution.
The pilot project was implemented during the 2017/2018 school year in three participating schools. Due to its success, activities continued throughout the following years and until today involved 24 primary schools from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brčko District, and Republika Srpska, and provided training for 91 teachers, including 16 teacher coaches, and more than 480 pupils.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, project activities were adjusted in a way that they were able to continue and were completed meaningfully despite a number of challenges. This showed the commitment of all those involved and the importance of mediation activities for children attending schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Many children have already used their newfound knowledge in practice, among friends, in order to help preserve friendly relationships. Project participants stated that mediation is one of the best possible forms of development cooperation, as it makes young people aware of how much good they can do for the society. At the same time, they become more mature, learn how to be more tolerant, develop communication skills and other cooperative knowledge that can be applied in all areas of life.
As part of the project, an excursion for teachers and principals of participating schools to Ljubljana was planned in March 2020. However, as it was impossible for it to happen due to public health safety measures, the project conclusion was marked by a virtual event on December 2, 2020. It was attended by representatives of ITF, the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Sarajevo, Concordia Mediation Institute, the European Centre for Dispute Resolution, and by teachers, coaches, and school and peer mediators who participated in the project.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia and ITF decided to divert funds originally intended for the excursion to purchase computer equipment for participating primary schools. In December 2020, each of the 24 schools received one laptop computer meant to equip mediation facilities and support the implementation of mediation activities.
ITF is grateful to the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their continued financial support throughout the years as well as for their commitment to continue supporting the implementation of the project in the future.