30 Apr 2018

The challenge of teaching history in the post-conflict Balkans

A website created by European history educators aims to help teachers from the Balkans address sensitive and often controversial topics related to wars in former Yugoslavia.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Source: Balkan Insight
The challenge of teaching history in the post-conflict Balkans - NewsMavens
Smart classroom of SD International Public School. Wikimedia Commons.

Why this story matters:

History textbooks in former Yugoslav countries often give simplified versions of truth about the recent past, such as blaming "the other side" for committing war crimes and victimizing their own side. This has led generations of post-war youth across the Balkans to be indoctrinated to fear and hate other ethnic groups.

Ruling elites use this "fear formula" to win elections, spreading anger against "others" during political campaigns.

That is why Devedesete.net could be an important step to reconciliation -- and eventually to a collaborative future for young people from different parts of former Yugoslavia.  

If students can learn "history that is not yet history," politicians in the Balkans might not be able to use the past to divide young people so easily.

Details from the story:

  • The Association of European Educators of History (EUROCLIO), with partner organizations from the Balkans, has launched Devedesete.net.
  • The website guides teachers on ways to address subjects related to the conflicts that took place in the 1990s in former Yugoslav countries. 
  • Teaching materials on the website were developed by European experts and historians from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. 
  • The website is the outcome of a two-year long project "Learning History That is Not Yet History."
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