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The Right to Education in One's Mother Tongue
26-02-2000

In the case of the Roma, it isn't a matter of school education in their native Romani language, but of equalizing conditions to enable Romani children to be placed among Czech students and receive an elementary and higher education.

Roma pupils

The problem is that Czech schools show consideration for the different cultural, social and, most importantly, language environment from which Romani children come to school. The low level of education possessed by many Romani parents, which means they have much more difficulty helping their children with their schoolwork than Czech parents, the low motivation to acquire an education and, mainly, the lack of familiarity with Czech as a teaching language - these are all barriers to the children getting a higher education and chances at a better job, and with it a better life.

Romani children aren't able to keep up with lessons because they often don't understand what the teacher wants from them. Romani children also encounter proper "literary" or written Czech for the first time only in school, as the Czech they learn at home is a mixture of Czech and Slovak, enriched with Romani expressions.

Czech schools specialize in bringing out the rational side of the child's personality and they promote only rational thinking. Czech children are made aware of this kind of thinking from an early age through toys and games which train them to solve problems logically. Romani children, who face the requirements of logical reasoning for the first time in school, regularly fail.

For this reason, since 1993 several alternative methods of educating Romani children are being tested which mostly consist of preparation for education in Czech schools, to help Romani children overcome their initial disadvantage of unfamiliarity with Czech language and culture.



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