DISCRIMINATION IN THE CLASSROOM: REAL-LIFE CASE OF SLAVKO MRŠEVIČ
News reports and social media in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the past few weeks are flooded with news about the autistic boy and former high school student Slavko Mršević. He became known to the public just recently but the issues of discrimination and severe humiliation he was exposed in his school started on 1 September 2016, when, at the request of the director, he was denied access to the high school (2nd grade) in Rudo, Bosnia and Herzegovina which he previously attended. His expulsion from school due to his autism resulted in the largest and most persistent individual protest against segregation in the history of this country.
Even though wrongly expelled, Slavko continues and insists on showing up in front of the school door to meet his companions during the breaks and tirelessly awaits his friend to finish classes and spend time with him in everyday activities. His peers are now attending third grade, but Slavko is still tirelessly coming to the door of the school and is awaiting his friends, and at the same time his faith in returning to school attracts attention of the media and the wider public to help correct the injustice he suffered in the past year and a half.
Having finally reached social media and news his case also came to Court and multiple teachers and the former school director who denied him access to school are being prosecuted. According to the information available in the official Bosnian media, the Law and school regulations allow no discrimination in classrooms and encourage and even ‘brag’ about introducing excellent conditions of inclusive education in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the practice in the case of Slavko Mršević shows that his basic human rights have been disrespected and violated. The most disappointing fact is that it took him and his family almost two years to get to the Prosecutor’s Office and charge the school director and some teacher for knowingly violating the Law and depriving the underage student of his legal rights as a special needs student. The fact that a few years earlier the Expert Evaluation Commission for Child and Adolescent Development proposed Slavko should continue his education and get the maximum support of psychological and pedagogical services makes the situation for director and teachers more serious.
According to sources Slavko was enrolled into high school in 2015, but in 2016 and second grade he did not get assessed in many subjects and it continued in the second, so his final grades were not finalized and he could not continue his education. The comments and reactions from the Ministry of Education and the School showed to be rare and really poor, so many media in Bosnia doubt them to have no concrete information why the boy was expelled, nor who actually ordered it and based on what grounds. Social media messages on a Facebook page made in Slavko’s honor show the public is disgusted by the school’s actions and that they are suspicious the case would even get to Court if it was not for intensive media coverage and social media activities in the past few months.
At the moment the situation seems really gloomy, but hopefully, Slavko will get back to school and all his problems will be solved with the legal prosecution process. He receives the support of friends and family as well as many celebrities, and the entire country stands behind him hoping his wishes will come true.