A group of International Solidarity Officers from the NUT took part in a “Lessons from Srebrenica” delegation earlier this month to learn how lessons from the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two can be used in schools across the UK to help create a better, safer and stronger society.
The group comprising teachers from London, Birmingham, Leeds, Oldham, Essex and Kent travelled to Bosnia with the UK charity Remembering Srebrenica who help people learn lessons from the genocide in order to build strong community relations in Britain and to demonstrate where hatred and prejudice can lead.
The group learnt about the genocide in Srebrenica which happened 21 years ago when General Ratko Mladić and his Bosnian Serb forces marched into the town of Srebrenica and systematically murdered 8372 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. The educators heard from survivors of the genocide and relatives of the victims, as well as officials from the International Commission on Missing Persons which has spearheaded the effort to locate and identify the 40,000 people who went missing during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
The teachers have all pledged to hold events on their return and to encourage students to celebrate diversity and live together harmoniously with people of all faiths and none.
The NUT’s International Relations Officer, Samidha Garg, reflected upon the important lessons learned on the visit saying:
“The NUT recognises the importance of ensuring that people of all faiths live happily and peacefully in a cohesive society. The work of Remembering Srebrenica is vital in helping to celebrate our multi-faith society in opposition to those who spread messages of hatred and division. When we have seen the effects that this brutal genocide had on Bosnia, it is important not only to show solidarity by marking the anniversary 21 years on, but also to learn the lessons and take action here in the UK.
“All of the teachers who travelled to Bosnia have returned with a much greater knowledge of what happened and a determination to share this knowledge with others. We will be recommending to our colleagues that they use Remembering Srebrenica’s excellent educational materials.”
The ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ visits are part of Remembering Srebrenica’s wider education programme which has seen 21,000 young people learning the lessons from Srebrenica. The charity also organises memorial events across the UK to mark the EU-wide day of remembrance for the victims of the genocide.
Remembering Srebrenica Education Manager, Rebecca Heron, said:
“By engaging with key members of the largest teaching union we can ensure that, 21 years after the genocide, we will not only remember the victims, but find educators who will work with young people to take action to prevent similar atrocities happening again.
“This reinforces our message that it is time to act. Never has it been more important for us to learn the lessons from Srebrenica. By speaking to young people at an early age, we can build better and safer societies for all, making sure that those who spread divisive messages do not go unchallenged in their efforts to breed hatred and intolerance.”
The ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ educational visit programme will be taking a number of high profile delegations out throughout the next three years. This year the participants include MPs, faith leaders, teachers, barristers, journalists and students all of whom pledge to organise projects in their communities to strengthen community cohesion and create a better society on their return.