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ERRC intends to slap law suit on Ministry of Education
09-06-1998
Radio Prague, June 9th - On Tuesday, Markus Pape from the European Roma Rights Centre informed journalists that his organization with a group of 15 Roma families are preparing a law suit against the Ministry of Education as well as Ostrava's Education Authority.

Roma parents claim that the Czech educational system discriminates against their children; an allegation they back with the fact that a high number of Roma children are sent to special education schools. The ministry and the education authority are therefore violating their basic human rights and freedoms, Roma parents say.

According to Pape, the psychological tests according to which children are evaluated and placed into the schools suitable for them, after they fail to pass the elementary schools, disregard the cultural differences and the language barrier. He considers this to be the main reason why Roma children end up in special education schools 27 times more than non-Roma students. Furthermore, the influence of racial discrimination is not ruled out and the children's progress is not being monitored which then outrules the possibility of their transfer into regular schools. "Roma children have been condemned to a lifelong educational barrier which surely includes considerable social risks such as the inability to get a good job", Pape concluded.

But Jarmila Krejcirova, the deputy-director of Ostrava's Education Authority says that the problem lies in bad communication between Roma parents and the schools. She added that parents have the chance to ask for a transfer of their children during the period from the month of March to the end of June and not even one Roma parent has asked for it so far.

Over a period of 8 months, the European Roma Rights Centre did some research on this subject in Ostrava and concluded that out of all the Roma children in the Moravian town, about 50% visit special education schools and only around 2% get to go to regular schools. Not to the surprise of Roma parents and the Centre, these figures differ greatly from the statistics given by the Czech government. The law suit is expected to be officially announced on June 15th.

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