Czech Television reveals Gypsy children barred from enrolling in elementary school

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

An elementary school in Brno is telling some students enrollment is closed while simultaneously keeping its doors open for others.

Czech Television recently performed a hidden camera investigation and discovered exactly how elementary schools approach the enrollment of Gypsy children.

In general, it is important that all children attend school together. For Romani children, it is important they do their best to achieve academically, while for non-Romani children it is important to learn tolerance of those who are different. “We’re full, go ask somewhere else,” is what Romani People often hear when trying to enroll their children in elementary school in the Czech Republic.

Czech Television tested how the Antoninska Elementary School in Brno, which specializes in offering foreign language instruction, responds to Romani parents and children. Two women, one of Gypsy origin, visited the school after the enrollment period had expired. The Romani parent was told there was no more room at the school for her child, but the other woman was much more successful – her child was added to a waiting list.

“I already have 70 people registered, which is three classes. I’m full, but I don’t know how many of these children will attend,” the director told the Romani mother. He recommended she try another school, which in his view is not as demanding, and warned her that at his school the pupils have to start foreign language instruction from the first grade.

In contrast, his meeting with the non-Romani mother was a completely different story. This mother visited the school the day after the Romani mother made her attempt. The director handed her over to the deputy director. “You are the third mother today who missed the deadline, but the registration must be done formally, you can’t just come here without bringing the child along. Next Wednesday I will not be teaching, and I am already agreed with some other mothers that they will come register, so you can too,” the deputy director said. The information about the school being full was never expressed to this mother. School officials did draw her attention to the foreign language instruction in the first grade, but in a completely different way, mentioning it as valuable for the child.

The result of the test has angered the Czech Education, Youth and Sport Ministry, but the Brno Regional Authority, who has established that school, responded calmly and downplayed its significance. “This is sensationalism. As far as I know, just because a mother has not yet enrolled her child does not mean it’s all over. If it should come to pass that they genuinely refuse to enroll a child because the child is Roma, then we would naturally address that and say it’s bad,” said Daniel Rychnovsky, Deputy Mayor of Brno.

According to the ministry, such an approach is not only unethical, it is illegal. “Basically every teacher, every director should proceed fairly and in the same way towards all pupils and their parents,” claims Deputy Education Minister Klara Laurencikova. Even though the school did not tell the Romani mother directly that it does not accept Romani children, the problem is still serious. “These days no one would permit themselves to state directly that they do not accept Roma. What makes it worse is that these various hidden methods are sought for refusing them,” explains Veronika Vankova of IQ Roma Servis in Brno.

The school management rejects the claim that it makes such distinctions, even though the report shows the mothers were handled differently. Government research has admitted that Romani children are 27 times more likely to end up in schools for lightly mentally disabled children than non-Romani children, irrespective of their actual state of mental health and intellectual capacity.

All-Roma classrooms are another problem. In Brno there are a minimum of three schools in which 90 % of the pupils are Romani children. City leaders see nothing wrong with this. “If we have it under control this way, if the parents agree with it, and if it works, I do not see a problem,” Rychnovsky said.

While it would appear that the Czech Television sees a problem with all-Romani classrooms, I personally, and I know of many Gypsy People who think similarly, can see nothing wrong with all-Romani classes. In fact, why not have real Romani Schools, entirely separate from those of the non-Romani so that Romani Culture and Traditions can be observed there, such as the Romani Cleanliness Code and such like.

However, to send Gypsy children away under the pretense that one school is full while at the same time the school is happy to take Gadje kids then that is discrimination and wrong, and there are no two ways about that.

But why are we actually surprised? It is happening still, has happened for ages, and whatever we may say or do and however much we may scream against it; changes will come but slowly as far as Anti-Gypsyism is concerned.

Instead of screaming that we want our children to go to Gadje brainwashing institutions having Gypsy owned and operated schools would be a much better bet as, firstly the younger children can gently be pulled over into the vernacular of the country and foreign languages while at the same time everyone still being taught in the Romani Language, and also being taught the Romani Language. Secondly it would be an education in the way the Romani work, which would be much better for the children.

But this is not something the do-gooders even want to hear and consider.

© 2010