Number of Romany assistants to teachers rise in Slovakia

Banska Bystrica, 29. 11. 2005, 18:41, (CTK)

The number of Romany assistants to teachers, who help them with problem children, has risen by a half to 900 in Slovakia since last year, Lucia Dobrodenkova from the Slovak Education Ministry told CTK today.

"We realise the importance of this project. Teachers' assistants from the Romany community enable children to get used to a new environment easier," said Dobrodenkova. Last year the Education Ministry earmarked 88 million crowns for the salaries of teachers' assistants, she added.

The introduction of teachers' assistants in Slovak primary schools has been the largest project of this kind in the country. The assistants now work in hundreds of primary schools, mainly in the localities with dense Romany population.

However, not only Romanies are interested in this job. Romany activist Magda Karacova, who worked as a teacher's assistant earlier, said that more and more unemployed teachers are seeking these jobs.

"I consider it a serious problem as these people have no experience with the life in a Romany community. It is just another job for them," Karacova said.

The project of Romany assistants, launched in 2002, was initiated by the Association of Young Romanies.

Agnesa Novozarova from this foundation said that so far some 200 Romanies with completed secondary education have worked as teachers' assistants via the foundation. A half of them have received a permanent job at schools and keep working there. There are some 90,000 Romany children attending primary schools in Slovakia, which is over 10 percent of all children in the country. A major part of them live in some 600 Romany settlements in east and central Slovakia.