Half of all first-graders in Belogradchik municipality are of Roma origin

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Belogradchik, Bulgaria: Vasil Levski primary school in the northwestern town of Belogradchik expects 50 first-graders for the new school year.

Principal Svetla Tabakova says that the number of first-graders for this new school year equals last year's number, half of who are of the Romani minority.

At a meeting the parents have been presented with the organization of the teaching process.

Apart from the obligatory classes, first-graders have to choose optional courses in Bulgarian, mathematics and sports.

Parents have to choose a foreign language their children will study after finishing first grade.

In the school English is preferred to German.

We have an individual approach to the parents of first-graders, which produces results.

The Roma parents are told that their children will live better if they are educated, Svetla Tabakova said.

While we have to agree that education is the way forward and, yes, also for the children of the Romani minority, and that is the same for not just in Bulgaria but also elsewhere in the world, the question remains as to how this education process is structured.

Also, will they be allowed to remain in the ordinary school system or will they be, as is the common practice in so many countries, and not just in Eastern Europe, be herded into schools “for the educationally subnormal” as they were once called though given different titles today.

Hilfsschule they used to call it in Germany and many a Gypsy child was forced into those schools for no other reasons that for being Gypsy. Chances of a decent job, even if they'd finish that kind of school, were non-existent aside from, maybe, laboring ones.

Was this done on purpose, and is it still done for the very same reason? You bet it is. This was done in order to keep Gypsy children from actually making use of any decent education.

Some succeeded, especially those that many not have been pushed into those “special schools”, against all odds, such as Police Inspector Guenther Weiss of Kehl, but many did not.

© 2009