Prompted by frequent journalistic inquiries, but also by writings of certain media about the reasons for not signing the agreement on the implementation of international surveys in education in BiH, we consider ourselves obliged to inform the public in more detail on this topic.
After the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republika Srpska requested the implementation of additional modalities of participation that would ensure greater visibility of the RS within the results of the PISA survey, the Agency for Pre-Primary, Primary and Secondary Education, in accordance with their competencies, entered into intensive negotiations with the international organizers of PIRLS (IEA) and PISA (OECD) surveys.
The attention of negotiations and communication between the Agency and OECD representatives was focused on finding a solution to the requests of the representatives of the competent education authorities of the Republika Srpska.
The OECD, which conducts the PISA survey, has made it clear that each participating country, including BiH, can choose additional modalities of participation, subject to prior signing of the agreement at the state level.
The Agency informed all interested parties (Presidency of BiH, Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH and competent ministries of education) about all conclusions of the negotiations and insisted on organizing a meeting to discuss any possible ambiguities regarding the implementation of PISA technical standards in BiH, what would ensure both the participation of our country in the PISA 2022 survey and the greater visibility of the RS through the ‘ adjudicated region‘ modality, but the mentioned meeting has not taken place to date.
It is important to emphasize that, despite numerous appeals and warnings sent by the Agency to the Presidency of BiH and representatives of the RS Ministry of Education and Culture, the deadline for signing the agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s participation in the PISA 2022 survey OFFICIALLY EXPIRED on March 31, 2021.
Let us mention here that the results of negotiations related to the PIRLS survey, which include the agreed Agreement on BiH’s participation in the PIRLS 2021 survey and the agreed Agreement on RS’s participation in PIRLS 2021 as an additional benchmarking area, were submitted to the BiH Presidency December 10, 2020, but that the same have not yet been considered.
Despite all the delays in obtaining approval for BiH’s participation in international surveys in education, the Agency has implemented all the tasks prescribed by the technical standards in PIRLS and PISA studies. All testing materials (manuals, scoring guides and various research forms) were translated and verified into three official languages in BiH. The software for conducting the PISA survey was also tested, but the sampling process could not be completed because the Agency cannot, without the consent of the competent ministries of education, approach the process of sampling schools and students in areas over which the ministries have responsibilities.
We consider it important to emphasize once again that the Agency for Pre-Primary, Primary and Secondary Education is a professional institution and as such is not the bearer of any educational policies, nor is the coordination of education within the competence of the Agency. All decisions and political negotiations should have been completed before the Agency was assigned the task of practical implementation of international surveys, which is under the direct responsibility of the Presidency of BiH, the Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH and the competent ministries of education. Therefore, the Agency, as a professional institution, should implement harmonized policies, and not work on their harmonization and coordinate the competent education authorities.
Through its activities, the Agency has clearly shown that participation in international survey is extremely important for improving the quality of education, and quality education is the foundation for improving the competitiveness of society and the economy. Namely, the Agency has been working in the best interest of our students and will continue to do so.