What is the Community Foundation and School Development Agency in Tuzla?

The Community Foundation Tuzla (Fondacija Tuzlanske Zajednice) and the school development network MIOS have evolved from the cooperation with the active elementary school in Simin Han since 1999. The work of the community foundation in the Simin Han district has expanded to all of Tuzla. The distinctive characteristic of the projects carried out by the community foundation is that adolescents are involved in the decision-making process. One example of this is the Youth Bank: adolescents from low-income families learn how to use money from a fund meaningfully for worthwhile youth projects. The community foundation helps support those districts in Tuzla, which exhibit significant development needs and where the residents actively participate in assistance programs.

The school development agency MIOS evolved from a school development project in Tuzla (BiH), Novi Sad (Serbia) and Osijek (Croatia), which transferred the experiences gained through a development assistance program at the elementary school in Simin Han, Tuzla. In the meantime, MIOS has become a school network with members from all three countries, which offers training courses, counseling services and development impulses to schools.

What are the goals?

The community foundation strives to support democratic development, strengthen the involvement of civil society as well as promote adolescents and encourage their participation in the democratic community by

  • disseminating new methods of teaching and learning,
  • establishing democratic management methods,
  • introducing inclusive learning and individualization of teaching methods,
  • practicing inclusion,
  • drawing up further education curricula,
  • standardizing and integrating the approaches in the official school system.

What do the community foundation and school development agency in Tuzla do?

  • Urban district development based on the concept of community education in cooperation with the school development agency MIOS.
  • Supporting the promotion of adolescents through the “Youth Bank”, youth councils and the group “Osmijeh za Osmijeh” (i.e. laughing for laughing),
  • Promoting civic initiatives with small grants.
  • Setting up a service for visiting sick persons in Simin Han.

The school development network MIOS

  • offers counseling services and support in cooperation with the government education authorities to schools in the canton of Tuzla with the objective of making known the positive experiences gained in Simin Han through the introduction of interactive teaching methods and showing the schools how they can become involved in their community,
  • invites schools to participate at workshops for interactive methods, inclusion and democratic school development. In this respect, new methods are introduced continuously and trainers are instructed accordingly. The training courses can be carried out in cooperation with the local authorities and are acknowledged,
  • develops a “Theory-Practice-Approach”, by means of which the knowledge learned can be implemented and put into practice immediately,
  • works together continuously with the Community Foundation Tuzla in different districts to encourage schools to become active in their community and to cooperate with the other actors in the district for the good of the children,
  • makes it possible – with the support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development – to create barrier-free access to schools for children and adolescents from disadvantaged families and to give them special remedial instruction.

Who is financing the community foundation and school development agency in Tuzla?

  • Freudenberg Foundation, Weinheim

Which partners are supporting the community foundation and school development agency in Tuzla?

  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • Olof Palme Centre
  • Soros Foundation
  • Balkan Trust for Democracy
  • Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
  • Municipal authorities of Tuzla
  • Local private persons and companies
  • German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Why is the Freudenberg Foundation supporting the community foundation and school development agency in Tuzla?

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Freudenberg Company in 1999, the partners set up a special fund of about Euro 1 million designated for projects and initiatives in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Macedonia. In this way, the donors wanted to express their sense of responsibility in the world community. Thus, the “Anniversary Project”, which called for engagement in three long-term projects, was born. One of those projects is the community education project in Tuzla-Simin Han, which the Freudenberg Foundation supported. It allowed the foundation to become active in two other countries (where the foundation had never been active before) and gain important experience. This knowledge was then transferred back to the programs in Tuzla. In particular, the Tuzla Community Foundation is a platform for community projects, above all for young people. Such projects as the Youth Bank are initiated and based there. MIOS is a network of schools that support democracy, tolerance and inclusion in the canton of Tuzla. The Freudenberg Foundation can transfer the experiences it has gained with MIOS in such fields as Service Learning and One Square Kilometer of Education to Tuzla. Accordingly, the Freudenberg Foundation has been contributing to the sustainment and institutional stabilization of the community foundation and school development agency in Tuzla since 1999.


Community Foundation Tuzla
Jasna Jasarevic
Matije Gupca 13
75000 Tuzla
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Phone/Fax: 00387-35-362830

MIOS (Medjunarodno udruzenje interaktivne otovrene skole)
Edina Malkic
Matije Gupca 13
75000 Tuzla
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Phone/Fax: 00387-35-362830

Change Story

The girl with the broad smile and hidden sorrow – A story from Simin Han

“Agora” is a community center in a suburb of Tuzla where the people face needs and obstacles everyday because of the bad social and economic conditions. About 30 children come to Agora every day, and whereas some participate in the activities being offered, others just play ping-pong or use the Internet with the help of volunteers. Up until a short while ago, we thought they came to meet other people and spend their free time in a sensible way.

This story is about a girl with a broad smile and a happy, trusting expression in her eyes. She comes to the center every day after school. She simply cannot be overlooked in the large group of children who visit our center every day because of her beautiful smile. Another thing that distinguishes her from the other children is that she always greets the staff, inquires as to their health and sometimes even hugs them, if she thinks that is OK for them. Two times a week the girl participates in the dance group and once a week in the creative workshop. She also actively joins other activities. In view of her lively participation, we believe that she is enjoying her time at the center. For this reason it was more than surprising for us when we found out that the girl has been suffering mocking and ridiculing from her peers every day. That is part of her everyday life, both in and outside school, as we have discovered.

p<>.When we talked with the members of the dance group about their needs, we could hardly expect them to express a wish for better manners in the group. Nonetheless, some did say that the others often insulted the girl by calling her names, laughed at her and said that she was dirty and smelled bad…. The girl sat and listened quietly as her friends described the situation in front of those boys and girls who always insulted her and called her names. She had a very serious expression on her face, as though all this did not concern her and the ugly words had nothing to do with her.

Her attitude and composure after everything that had been said to her was more than impressive. That is why we were even more interested in finding out why the girl chose to stay in the group and also wanted to dance despite the continuous provocations. When we asked her, she said: “Because all of you here at the Agora Center are so good to all of us. Sara and Sabiha hug and kiss me every time they see me, and I have good friends here.” This cheerful girl with the open and warm smile does not see the injustice, she does not take the insults too personally or she has simply decided to deal and live with it in her way. She is called Sabina in the center, and she also uses this name on the attendance lists. Yet, through her school, we found out that her real name is Hadzira. The girl moved to Simin Han and enrolled in first grade; however, due to her age, she was sent to second grade two months later. Despite a lack of knowledge in basic subjects and with significant personal help and the support of her teachers, she was able to move on to third grade.

The girl lives together with her parents, who work on a market to survive. It seems that we have to concern ourselves more with those children who are not the main characters in this story, but who learn and take over bad manners from adults. What we find so frightening is the fact that violent behavior seems normal to the children. Children who are exposed to abuse hide their feelings; children who practice abuse are not aware of the pain they are inflicting on others.

Sabiha Rekic
Agora Center Coordinator
Tuzla Community Foundation