Romany Children in the Schools still Problems

15. 9. 2005

The Czech Press Agency (CTK) reported today that Romany children will be separated into a new 'special class' in the elementary school Maj II in Ceske Budejovice, a city in Southern Bohemia.

The decision to create a separate class for first year students of Romany ethnic origin was taken by deputy mayor Vlasta Bohdalova, and the new class was formed five days ago, nine days after the official beginning of the Czech school year. So far, 19 Roma children have been enrolled in the class. The new class is supposed to help alleviate the so-called 'maturity gap' between Romany children and ethnic Czech children. However, according to CTK, the reasons for the change might have more to do with the fact that parents of non-Romany children had threatened to remove their children from the elementary school after they discovered that there were Romany children in the same classes.

Such segregation on the basis of ethnicity appears to be a violation of Education Act No. 561 of the 24 September 2004, which states that education in Czech schools 'shall be based on the principles of equal access of all citizens of the Czech Republic or nationals of any other European Union Member State to education without any discrimination based on any ground such as race, color, sex, language, belief or religion, nationality, ethnic or social origin, property, kith or kin, or the health condition or any other status of a citizen.'

Moreover, segregated schools constitute a direct violation of the right to education guaranteed under such international human rights agreements as the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Protocol I, Art. 2 , and the European Social Charter.

Roma children in schools are considered 'problematic' not only in the Czech Republic but also in Italy. A similar incident occurred this school year in the small village of Villanova Marchesana, in the north east of Italy, when several parents decided to remove their kids from the local elementary school after they discovered that 18 Romany students would also be attending the school. Children of both foreign and Italian parents have already pulled out, and have re-registered at other schools in the area.

(Dzeno Association)

Surprise, surprise - NOT. It is rather common for Romani children to be separated, and not just in that particular place in the Czech Republic but it is common practice, so we understand, in Germany and Austria, as well as, I understand, in France. It should not be, we all know that, but it is being done and being done wholesale. The answer? In my view there is only one: schooling our children ourselves.