Project Factsheet
Tools for » Improving Cultural Understanding in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Project ID:00067182Description:MDGF-1800-G-BIH Culture
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 2 Nov 2007
MDGF Culture & Development
End Date*: 30 Jun 2012
Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


17 years after the Dayton Peace Agreement, the society in BiH remains fragmented, divided and unable to trust its neighbor from a different ethnic background. The education system has for the last 15 years been faced with issues of fragmentation, politicization, and drop in quality provision. The school system is ethnically defined and divided. There is insufficient cultural knowledge considering the rich cultural heritage of BiH. The Joint Programme (JP) was conceived on the basis of strengthening the culture and education sector in order to achieve sustainable development and an intercultural and tolerant society. The JP is structured around 4 outcomes aiming at mutual interaction and policy testing. The policy level intertwined grass-roots action with projects aiming at vertical integration across governmental layers.

Under the first outcome, national plans for the culture and education sectors were established. Studies were done on two World Heritage sites. 3,027 teachers were trained on interculturalism reaching 53,800 children in 84 schools.

The second outcome led to mapping and implementation of 40 projects undertaken with the objective to improve cross-cultural understanding in local communities, and included the involvement of the educational sector.

The third outcome was similar to the second, in that 40 projects were undertaken, but in this case activities involved the use of cultural assets in order to develop economic benefits and to provide employment (over 1,000 jobs temporarily created). The various institutions and entities of BiH contributed with US$ 2.5 million for the reconstruction of cultural heritage.

The fourth outcome achieved some results in behavioural change towards increased tolerance for diversity as a result of the communication campaign based on documentary films launched in the school system.

Overall, strategic planning and development of methodologies for data collection in culture and education sectors directly strengthened the local actors: municipalities, schools, school children, civil society, cultural institutions, industries and workers.

The JP was able to contribute to the creation of national plans, and increase the capacity to obtain baseline information. Furthermore, the education system was one vector of dissemination of tolerance and respect for diversity through specific and varied activities. Increased awareness both at the general public and at the institutional level was obtained through a better understanding of the importance of cultural heritage and how cultural assets are opportunities for sustainable development.


Outcome 1:

Improved policies & legal frameworks in culture and education sectors.

Outcome achievements:

  • National plans for culture and education sector were created. The government selected the priorities for those plans to be implemented by the JP.  One component leading to improved policy making was the qualitative culture mapping exercise and collection of statistical data with a number of participants receiving training on culture mapping.  The result was a new methodology for data collection for 15 cultural domains (including theatres, TV stations, radios, orchestras, museums, etc.). The BiH Agency for Statistics is to undertake the data collection for 2012 in 2013. A study was undertaken on cultural industries in the country (5,667 out of 41,606 business entities) that reportedly employed 19,161 persons. Another survey was undertaken among 1,500 citizens on access to culture, specifically tailored to  situations (places) where there is a higher number of barriers to cultural participation. Also a number of official web-sites (cultural portals) at state and entity levels were established (Ministry of Civil Affairs BiH, Cultural site of the RS Ministry of Education and Culture; cultural site of the FBiH Ministry of Culture and Sports). An action plan was developed to implement the strategy on culture in line with government priorities.
  • Another aspect was the translation of the UNESCO conventions in local languages in order to advocate for ratification. In addition, two studies were done on two World Heritage sites and a first preliminary list of intangible cultural heritage was established. A review of the legal framework in the culture sector was carried out and a list of recommendations was provided. A study on public private partnerships (PPP) in culture was commissioned by the government as a priority in order to attract private capital in publicly led cultural institutions.
  • In the education sector, 3,027 teachers were trained in interculturalism with 84 schools reaching 53,800 children. 5,437 copies of the training manual were distributed. An action plan was developed to introduce a system for monitoring the quality of primary school with an accompanying set of documents such as an Ethics code, intercultural indicators and an instrument for school self-evaluation. A methodology for intercultural education at the higher level was undertaken with 24 junior lectures in three universities (Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Mostar) to improve competencies for intercultural education didactics and teaching methods. Two entity level gender centers provided trainings for cultural institutions.
  • The curricula analysis showed that there is no adequate training programme for teachers dealing with intercultural teaching and learning in BiH, so models are needed, and a report providing guidelines on this issue was prepared.
  • In order to improve policy and practice for intercultural education in BiH, two activities were undertaken: one was the mapping of teachers’ competencies for intercultural and inclusive education in ten local communities, and the second a conference “Teachers as pillar for successful achievements – Competencies for inclusive and intercultural education”.
  • A series of 150 training activities and events were undertaken attended by a total for 5,280 beneficiaries (of which 3,492 were women).


Outcome 2:

Improved cross-cultural understanding at the community level.

Outcome achievements:

  • Over 40 projects were implemented with the goal to improve cross-cultural understanding in local communities. Participants were equally divided between local administration, NGOs and schools. Great success was achieved by active participation of the audience in performances, plays and workshops. For the education sector, activities aimed at promotion of social inclusion at the community level. Student exchanges between different communities increased the effects of the intervention. 50 students and 20 teachers spent 3 days in families of other communities during the exchange, in order to contribute to transfer of knowledge within their own communities upon return.
  • Some of the projects results include; 3,072 teachers from 84 primary schools improved their skills and competencies for intercultural education, 5,000 copies of the module for intercultural education were distributed to pedagogical institutes and primary schools; 5 children parliaments were established on the basis of agreements with the municipalities; 12 public debates focusing on culture of dialogue, tolerance and human rights were held in different localities; 9,825 copies of UNESCO and UNICEF publication “Learning to Live together” were translated into three BiH official languages and distributed to pedagogical institutes; 15 primary schools obtained improved infrastructure for intercultural activities through grants (US$ 150,000), 60 children from 6 municipalities showed increased positive attitudes towards interculturalism; 10 messages with specific content were developed by primary school students.  A KAP (Knowledge Attitude and Practice) study started in 2009 to establish the situation in cross-cultural relations and preparing a campaign for changing the mindset.


Outcome 3:

Strengthened cultural industries.

Outcome achievements:

  • Similar to the second outcome, over 40 projects were implemented encouraging the role of culture in economic development. Efforts were essentially placed into developing cultural products that offered employment and economic benefits, e.g., revitalized museums. Cultural industries were for the first time recognized as an important industrial sector and new methodologies were prepared by the Institute for Statistics for data collection on the sector.
  • Some of the results include 17 monuments of cultural heritage reconstructed, 793 cultural products created, 82 theater performances undertaken, 53 exhibitions held, 73 concerts given, and 107 movies shown. More than 1,000 jobs were temporarily created while permanent jobs for vulnerable categories were established in a number of tailored projects for income generation in rural communities for single women, returnees and/or displaced persons and persons with disabilities. The concrete products contributed to the visibility and local understanding of the programme.
  • In the reconstruction of cultural heritage, from the overall 17 monuments and cultural heritage sites, UNESCO restored ten (instead of the planned 3) monuments, which counted with the important contribution of USD 2.5 million from the entity and the local authorities. Jointly UNDP and UNESCO restored the important square in the divided city of Mostar that today carries the name of ‘Spanish square’. For this endeavor Government funds and Ministry of Defense of Spain provided a total contribution of 300,000 USD.


Outcome 4:

Improved tolerance levels towards diversity.

Outcome achievements:

  • The outcome required a change of behavior and attitudes and was based on several mutually supportive outputs. One aspect was to improve the level of tolerance for diversity, through preparation of documentary films. An analysis of the media on cultural sensitivity was undertaken, and a behavior change communication campaign was launched in the school system. Results indicate the improvement of cross-cultural understanding among 84 schools in 10 municipalities. The goal of campaign for change of mindset was to achieve important positive changes in cross-cultural understanding. The majority of citizens believe that the responsibility for teaching children to be tolerant towards others primarily rests with parents and school. Almost all of the surveyed parents (92 percent) say they have taken this responsibility upon themselves, although a large number of them (73 percent) also regard school as a very important institution that should instill tolerance among children. The vast majority of teachers (around 90 percent) see parents as primary role models and educators to teach children to be tolerant, followed by school (70 percent). A substantial number of teachers believe that the media (40 percent) and religious institutions (30 percent) also play a role in teaching tolerance to children.  An interesting film was made and is available at:


Best practices:

  • Consensus building at the PMC (Programme Management Committee) level and through implementation of the JP with government partners allowed obtaining maximum ownership from both state and local counterparts.
  • Joint monitoring of local programmes simultaneously involved government partners at central level and contributed to on-the-job training for future actions with local budgetary resources.
  • The joint public call for municipalities by all UN agencies proved a very successful model contributing to easier implementation and improved performance by local partners.
  • Calls for application to projects proved a good bottom-up tool that allowed performance targets and mechanisms to be defined up front, combined with inclusive monitoring and hands on support that allowed delivery of good results according to the identified local priorities.


Lessons learned:

  • The PMC mechanism should enable government partners to nominate representatives from each of the sectors represented in the programme implementation.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Bosnia and Herzegovina or the lead agency for the programme.

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