Joint history textbooks will set our intellectual comfort zone free of prejudices, and give us wings to fly where the future leads us!

One of my favorite subjects, throughout education, was history. The most important message this subject has transcended to me lies in the essence of warning us not to repeat mistakes. Nevertheless, each country in the Balkans, through their history books justifies and often glorifies its acts, while mistakes, if there ever were any, are mainly prescribed as something to blame others for. In fact, when I decided to combine books from different countries and read about the same topics, my belief of history as an unbiased subject slightly changed. Eventually, this small analytical approach of mine led me to the conclusion that, unfortunately, the obvious different angles and contradictory information, in most cases is dependent on the author`s belonging to the certain interest group.

I recently participated in a ten-day peacebuilding training organized by the Center for Nonviolent Action in Ulcinj, Montenegro. During the event, I gathered many insights and conclusions, but I was especially motivated and encouraged by a workshop where the role of prejudice and its historical development was in the focus. As the discussion was very simulative, it led me to have some flashbacks from school, as many of the topics were based on the materials we read while students. This workshop was a trigger that made me think of the subject of History, as it is my favorite subject but the same is valid for other subjects.

Being from Montenegro, whenever I travel abroad I am always asked about the Balkans. I am always taken aback as its history and politics are very complicated to explain. Thus, I always wondered, if I had a subject in school that helped me understand it better, I would have a clearer understanding and answer. Joint history textbooks will help the region to break free from impetuses leading to conflicts and will help us, the youth, think of the future in a clearer sense.

Could the establishment of joint history textbooks be the way of dismantling prejudices that are shaping social interaction in the Balkans and as such, our future as a region? A possible example of how we could manage this heavy remanence of the past is given by many enlightened individuals, with whom the process which leads to permanent change begins. The enlightenment, however, flows out of a good educational system that could influence the perception of individuals of certain information, therefore, being a precious channel through which we can benefit intellectually and spiritually, leaving prejudices stemming from ignorance far away from us.

Only when we all learn from joint history textbooks we, the youth of the region, would be able to move forward and make decisions based on the pragmatic information. Education is the power that will contribute to breaking down barriers and directing us to a stronger and more developed region!

Author: Bojana Lalatović