LETTERS, MACHINE AND POLITICS. Literacy of workers in business enterprises of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period of reconstruction (1945-1948)


  • Semir Hadžimusić


literacy of the population, literacy courses, economy, business enterprises, trade union, reconstruction


Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed the liberation in 1945 with a ruined economy and infrastructure, but also with over 70 percent of illiterate population. Therefore, when it comes to the (cultural) policy of the new authorities, literacy of the population is a given priority, and it was pointed out that an illiterate person is not able to read newspapers, party proclamations, that in essence he stands outside culture, but also outside politics and society in general. Literacy was carried out through literacy courses for the population, and according to the instructions of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they should be organized in every place, village, factory, or wherever there were at least five illiterate people.

The leaders of the trade union organizations in the business companies went a step further and pointed out that if there is only one illiterate worker in the company, that the problem should be solved by the union branch of that company. Illiterate people could not be engaged in full capacity to rebuild the country, especially when it comes to more complex jobs on rebuilding infrastructure, rebuilding existing ones and setting up new businesses. Without acquiring basic literacy, it was not possible to attend professional training courses for work in the economy, industry and transport.

The paper presents examples that best understand the conditions, ways, flows and results of literacy in companies throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, including mines and forestry. After literacy completion, the union, in collaboration with party groups, took over responsibility to instruct the workers to reading the press in order to get acquainted with the socio-political trends. At the Zenica Iron Factory, literate workers are included in reading groups that are organized in breaks, during the time between first or second furnace filling, or in breaks between shifts.

The results of literacy were explained in accordance with the data of the census of Bosnia and Herzegovina from March 15, 1948.

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