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?