Tag Archives: Roma children

Roma Children At Risk In Czech Republic

In the war of words concerning discrimination in the Czech Republic against Roma children, leaders insist they seek equality for all children in the nation. Two years after the European Court for Human Rights denounced racial segregation, the Czech Republic continues its policy of segregating thousands of Roma children into special schools. A group of Czech NGOs named, Together for School accused the Ministry of Education of inaction despite words to the contrary. They accuse the practice of sending many Roma children to “special” schools is simply a cover up for racial discrimination.

In theory, “special” schools have been abolished, but many Roma children attend schools whose curriculum is designed to be “practical” which translates into vocational dead end and not encouraging children to attend programs designed to foster attending higher education institutions. Together To School wants an end to segregation, an end to taking the easy way out of complex situations, and an education program which helps ALL children to use their abilities.

What’s Best Education For Roma Children?

Romas in the Czech Republic encounter daily prejudice, they lack equal opportunity to access good jobs, and their children invariably struggle to survive in schools. As is so often the issue with children whose families are poor, educational authorities face complex issues. Should Roma children be provided separate classes in which teachers know all children have basically the same problems or should Roma children be integrated with other students. A primary school in the Czech Republic town of Valasske Mezirici decided to open two primary classes, one specifically for Roma children and the other for remaining town students.

The Ministry of Education decided segregation in the long run damaged opportunities for Roma children to succeed in school and ordered integration of all children in the community. This is a wise decision. Once children in school are placed in “special classes” the stigma lives with them for their entire educational experience. Teachers tend to “teach down” rather than expecting better performance. Roma children will have to live in a society containing those of various backgrounds and abilities, where best to begin the journey but in elementary school?

Romas Claim School Discrimination

A Prague Court rejected a claim by a Roma that he faced discrimination in school and was not provided an opportunity to succeed in a regular school program. The court argued he did not display sufficient academic achievement when placed in a school for slow learners which was evidence he lacked the ability to succeed in a regular academic program. Romany Suchy pointed out he was heavily sedated on grounds he was hyperactive and this impeded his ability to do well in school

An ongoing problem is to have schools for “slow learners.” This triggers what is termed the “pygmalion effect” under which students attain the levels the school believes they should attain. There is need to end such schools unless there is clear evidence of physical mental disability. A high percent of Roma children no doubt are classified as below average due to faulty diagnosis.

Roma Children Encounter Prejudice In Schools

During World War II, thousands of Roma people were murdered by German troops since the Nazis regarded them as an inferior sub-human people. These days Romas are not physically killed but their children are driven from schools due to prejudice and bigotry on the part of school officials. A recent survey by the Czech Republic organization People in Need reveals widespread indifference on the part of teachers to succeed with Roma children in their classes. The preferred solution is simply to transfer Roma children to a special school. According to Zdenek Svoboda, “schools and their teachers still do not approach children with certain disadvantage equally. We have recorded a tendency to eliminate children requiring special care of those who are difficult to manage.”

The survey revealed that two out of ten Roma female students are sent elsewhere and three out of ten boys are sent to special schools. Svoboda notes, “Roma people are often perceived as lacking interest in education, and unable to keep a commitment.” If educators believe a child fits certain characteristics before they enter a classroom, it is most probable the child will wind up displaying those characteristics.

Hungary And Roma Question

The issue of where do Romas belong in Hungarian society has been discussed year after year without any real effort to develop either a short or a long term strategy for dealing with the issue. A few weeks ago, Miskoic police chief Albert Pasztor, created a stir by claiming that virtually all crime committed in his city were done by Romas. The reality is the presence of an ever widening gap between the economic level of Romas and other Hungarians as well as the social distance between the groups in their everyday lives. The reality is lack of equal job opportunities and lack of education access as being at the heart of this gap in power. The current government set out a “Decade of Roma” legislation which has been successful in the area of rhetoric but there is little concrete to support achieving its goals.

As always in dealing with oppressed minorities there is no lack of plans and proposals and study groups and seminars to examine issues, but the aftermath of these endeavors is rarely matched by concrete steps at solutions. There comes a moment in time when action is needed and an end to further studies. Just do something to help end poverty and to ensure Roma children can obtain a quality education.