Melisa Ismičić

Melisa Ismičić was born in 1985 in Doboj, but she lives in Novi Šeher. She is a teacher of the Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian languages and literatures. After seeking a job for several years she finally found work in 2011 at the Novi Šeher Elementary School. She lost this job because of a brief public engagement, mainly through Školegijum: A Journal for a More Just Education, in which she offered examples of poor education practice, the problem of nepotism in emloying teachers, the approach to reforming education which favors a superficial, rather than a substance-based, approach, especially in reference to the system known as „two schools under one roof“, and so forth.

The Duško Kondor Award for Civil Courage is being given to Melisa Ismičić of Novi Šeher because, although fully cognizant of the risk she was undertaking, she demonstrated civil courage by the following:

  • She published an article, unsigned, in Školegijum: Journal for a More Just Education with the title „Why is it easier for you to get an article from Split than from me.“ The article was a critique of the existing school system and provided examples of poor education practice.
  • She published the article without a signature not out of fear but because she hoped other schools would identify with the examples she gave, without associating them exclusively with the Novi Šeher Elementary School. Her goal was to provide constructive rather than negative criticism.
  • When an investigation was undertaken at the school where she worked against the person who had written the article, she made it known that she was the author and she was fired. By doing so she showed that the greater good mattered more to her than personal interests and this provoked even greater furty among her superiors.
  • She made public the pressures that the principal of the school and some of the teaching staff brought to bear on her over her article and she also spoke publicly on several occasions to call for a school system that would be fairer, of higher quality, and greater integrity.
  • The harassment she suffered did not dissuade her from working at the school and she applied again for the same job she had lost. In the course of a hiring procedure that was highly suspect in the way the points were assigned her application was rejected.
  • By her own example she has faced the public with the question of what young people can expect who are fighting for a more just society and whether today in Bosnia and Herzegovina it is possible to voice constructive criticism without suffering retaliation.
  • She has continued living in her community and fighting to return to her job, not only for her own sake but for the sake of justice.
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