Česky English Deutsch Francais
Students highlight segregation in education during Roma Week
13-11-2012 - Masha Volynsky
This week, a group of university students is organizing a series of events in Prague focused on the segregation of Roma children in Czech schools and the media image of the country’s Romani minority. Held in cooperation with the human rights group AI, the Roma week reiterates concerns about the continued education inequality that the international community has been voicing for some time, and which is a growing issue for young Czechs as well.

Photo: CTK The first event was actually held last week when the group, together with representatives of Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre, held a public happening in front of the Education Ministry, building an allegorical pyramid of books locked up with chains and padlocks. The speakers at the event, which included a Romani mother from Ostrava and a spokesperson for the education ministry, unlocked the padlocks, thereby symbolically unshackling the future of Romani children in the Czech Republic.

The main events of Roma Week are organized by the Amnesty International student group called iPusa. I asked one of the organizers, Adam Podhola, a student at the University of Economics, why they decided to hold such an event for the second year in a row.

“Personally, I’m fed up with the fact that in our society, which is supposed to be democratic, there is a group that is totally excluded from civil society. So that was maybe the main reason why we decided to do this. It is important to give this marginalized group a voice.”

Report published last week on continuing discrimination in the Czech education system, photo: Masha Volynsky Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre published a report last week that outlines the main problems of segregation in education, based on the examples of four schools in Ostrava. Roma Week purposefully coincides with a campaign the two organizations launched for this occassion, called ‘Five more years of injustice’, which aims to work with the education ministry, among others, to put an end to discriminatory practices.

The campaign follows up on a 2007 verdict by the European Court for Human Rights which ruled in favor of 18 Romani students from the northern city of Ostrava, confirming their families’ claim that they were unjustly placed into so-called special, or practical, schools for disabled children, and denied access to a regular education. The court also stated that this was a common practice in the Czech Republic that needed to be stopped. But five years on, human rights advocates are saying little progress has been made.

Roma Week organizers: David Hájek, Karolína Chloubová and Adam Podhola, photo: Masha Volynsky The Education Ministry announced that it is preparing a number of improvements starting next year. According to the ministry’s spokesman Marek Zeman one of them will be detailed psychological tests for preschoolers:

“[The tests] will determine with certainty whether a student belongs in a practical school or not.”

iPusa’s annual Roma Week focuses not only on the education but also on the role and position of the Roma in Czech society and the media - holding an exhibit of documentary comics and photographs from different Roma communities, hosting film screenings as well as discussions with experts on media and Roma rights.

Most of the events are being held at Charles University’s Faculty of Education, aiming to expose future teachers to issues of segregation and inclusive education. I asked Adam Podhola what he and his fellow organizers of Roma Week want to convey to the future teachers who are currently studying at the faculty. Here is the advice he had to give:

Romani students protest against discrimination in Czech schools, photo: CTK “Don’t give into the stereotypes that you see in the media. It is about creating dialogue, it’s about understanding. I think one of the problems here is that we underestimate the Roma culture. It is just as important as Czech culture, and [their values] are just as important as the values that we have. And I think we should try to learn more about Roma culture, because it will help us deal with the problems in the future.”

For more information about the campaign, go to

Related articles
08.09.2015Segregated Roma classes at Czech school spark criticismNews
03.09.2015EDUin’s Bob Kartous: inclusive education in the Czech Republic still facing plenty of hurdlesNews
03.04.2014Politicians consider dual-language curriculum to help Romany children overcome language barrierNews
28.11.2013Government’s agency for social inclusion issues grim report on the situation of the Roma minorityNews
12.09.2013Brochures for schools to help combat racial prejudice and extremismNews
08.04.2013AI launches Europe-wide campaign to end discrimination against RomaNews
14.02.2013Rap video exhorts Roma parents not to send children to special schoolNews
30.11.2012Education ministry planning effective action against discrimination of Romanies in the education systemNews
02.08.2012British study: placing Czech Roma children in “special” schools unsubstantiatedNews
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, 1997-2023
Vinohradská 12, 120 99 Praha 2, Czech Republic