Česky English Deutsch Francais
NGOs call for action in the face of persisting discrimination of Romany children in schools
02-09-2009 - Jan Richter
Two years after a breakthrough verdict by the European Court for Human Rights which denounced racial segregation in Czech schools, Romany children still face widespread discrimination. That’s the conclusion of a group of Czech NGOs that say the Czech Education Ministry has shown good will but has introduced few practical measures to improve the situation.

Kateřina Hrubá with Edita Stejskalová from NGO Z§vůle práva, photo: A group of Czech NGOs called Together to School has accused the country’s Education Ministry of inaction in the face of persisting discrimination of Romany children in Czech schools. Two years after the European Court for Human Rights ruled that placing Romany children in “special” schools or schools with special education programmes constitutes unlawful discrimination, the Together to School initiative points out that according to a survey carried out by the Education Ministry, the practice has not changed. Kateřina Hrubá is a lawyer for the Brno-based NGO Z§vůle práva.

“The situation in schools remains the same according to our experience directly in the field. In the first half of 2009, the Institute for Information on Education carried out a very important survey in Czech standard and practical schools, and the result shows that almost 27 percent of all Romany children attend practical elementary schools, while only two percent of non-Roma pupils attend these schools. We find these results very alarming.”

Although “special schools” as such were abolished in 2005, Romany children are often being placed in “practical schools” that follow syllabi designed for children with light mental disabilities. The NGOs blame standard elementary schools for failing to provide assistance to Romany children with special education needs, and instead transfer them to the “practical schools”. While the ministry has shown goodwill in dealing with the situation, non-governmental experts say little has been done in practical terms to stop discrimination. They would therefore like to address the issues with a series of measures.

“We would like to propose that the ministry launch an information campaign focused on the general public to draw attention to the importance of the issue of discrimination of Romany children. We would also like the current minister, Ms Kopicová, to state publicly that it is illegal to discriminate against Romany children and enrol them into practical schools, and to put a moratorium on the transfers of Romany children into practical schools.”

Apart from a moratorium on the transfer of Romany children to practical schools, a national information campaign and other measures, NGOs suggest the ministry outline an ethical code for psychologists who often choose to transfer Romany children to special programmes because it seems the simplest solution. The ministry acknowledges the seriousness of the situation but strongly denies accusations of inaction. Tomáš Bouška is the spokesman for the Czech Education Ministry.

“We have a section for social programmes here at the Education Ministry which has been functioning for no longer than one year. And in this one year, we have carried out an overwhelming list of attempts to change the situation which is painful, and we admit that it is painful.”

The list includes a national action plan to support inclusive education, a project of support centres, and a plan to improve counselling at schools. Mr Bouška says that these and other steps will be carried out, regardless of who takes over the ministry after the next elections.

Tomáš Bouška “These measures will be compulsory for the Czech Republic and will be implemented regardless of the political situation and of who will be in charge of the ministry. The Education Ministry will distribute to all counselling organisations and schools its recommendation with ethical principles for working with socially and culturally disadvantaged children. This will take place this month, in September 2009.”

The Education Ministry will take time to study the proposals and says it is ready to work with the Together to School initiative to eradicate discrimination of Romany children in schools. For their part, NGOs say that the problem is now so serious it requires a concerted effort on the part of all involved and top priority treatment.

Related articles
06.06.2018Study indicates ethnic hate is contagiousNews
08.12.2016Project aimed at fighting hate crime acquires fresh urgency in light of migrant crisisNews
14.11.2016Romany soccer team face hatred more or less all the time, says FC Roma co-director Tomáš BojarNews
08.02.2016Far-right focus on migrants taking heat of Roma at least for now, says Czechs Against Czechs maker Tomáš KratochvílNews
25.11.2014Social Democrat leadership up in arms over local government coalition with ultra-right partyNews
25.11.2014Political commentator Jiří Pehe: Duchcov coalition could seriously damage the Social DemocratsNews
08.09.2014Lukáš Houdek, a photographer, writer and curator tackling prejudices head-onNews
07.11.2013Intelligence service report: corruption and economic problems are fuelling extremismNews
12.09.2013Brochures for schools to help combat racial prejudice and extremismNews
All related articles
Format for printing
Send as e-mail

Also in section "News"
31.10.19  Roma children’s choir Chavorenge and members of the Czech Philharmonic to perform in UK
13.09.19  Archaeologists discover graves of Roma persecuted during WWII in Lety camp
02.06.19  Ida Kelarová and her Romany children’s choir Chavorenge
29.05.19  Two Roma activists to receive Charter 77’s František Kriegel Award
07.04.19  Romany music from the Czech Republic
13.03.19  Czech singer Věra Bílá, dubbed the Ella Fitzgerald of Gypsy music, dies days before her comeback tour
21.11.18  Roma social worker from Ostrava listed on BBC 100 Women list
12.10.18  Why are there so few Roma politicians?
17.09.18  Virtuoso pianist Tomáš Kačo: When I tell somebody I’m a Gypsy in the US, they’re excited about it
06.06.18  Study indicates ethnic hate is contagious
Archive of the section

Most popular articles
3153053   26.02.00 Some Basic Information about the Roma Population in the Czech Republic
290319   27.01.05 The 'Devouring': A look at the Romani Holocaust
184516   26.02.00 The History and Origin of the Roma
141463   26.02.02 The Language of the Roma
107706   13.06.00 The History of the Roma Minority in the Czech Republic
105260   26.02.00 The Traditional Family Life of the Czech Roma
103929   02.06.03 The Roma Holocaust
88238    World famous Roma Personalities
88174   21.02.04 Extreme right activists demonstrate for skinhead in jail
74801    Photographs by Romani Children
Copyright © Český rozhlas / Czech Radio, 1997-2022
Vinohradská 12, 120 99 Praha 2, Czech Republic