“Denial of the Right to Education to Romani Children”

On Wednesday 28th November 2012 I attended a talk on behalf of Restless Beings at Essex Human Rights Centre entitled “Denial of the Right to Education to Romani Children” delivered by Victoria Vasey, Legal Director at the European Roma Rights Centre.
 
The talk discussed the landmark decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human
Rights in DH and Others v Czech Republic and the situation in the Czech Republic 5 years on. The
issues raised by the case are symptomatic of many of the educational difficulties faced by the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe today, which feed into the problems faced in the UK.
 
DH and Others v Czech Republic
 
The case concerned eighteen Roma Czech nationals from Ostrava who applied to the European
Court of Human Rights challenging the segregated schooling system in the Czech Republic. All
of the applicants had been assigned to “special schooling” for children with learning difficulties.
The curriculum at these schools was basic and non-individualised so that few, if any, pupils leaving
the school were able to read or write which directly impacted their access to further education and
employment. Evidence showed that Roma children were systematically and disproportionately placed in these schools because of their racial or ethnic identity and not their intellectual capabilities.
 
The legal arguments claimed that the treatment amounted to a discriminatory denial of the applicants’ right to education contrary to article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights in conjunction with Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the Convention.
 
The European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber identified a pattern of racial discrimination in
public primary schools which violated article 14 of the Convention. They reaffirmed that segregation
amounts to discrimination and recognised that the problem was prolific throughout Europe.
Importantly, they held that indirect discrimination, i.e. a policy which disproportionately affects a
particular racial or ethnic group, can violate article 14. Furthermore, the Roma were identified as a
disadvantaged and vulnerable minority in need of special protection.
 
Five years on
 
Victoria Vasey explained how very little has changed in the Czech Republic in the past five years
following the judgment by the Grand Chamber. No systemic changes to the educational system have been made; special education was renamed as practical elementary education but the curriculum remains the same. In 2011/2012 the Czech Ombudsman found that 32% of all pupils in practical elementary education were Roma. The reasons for this paralysis are extensive and tied up with political and economic concerns. What can be said with certainty is that discriminatory attitudes
towards the Roma are enduring and it is this which needs to be tackled head-on.
 
Roma Education in the UK
 
Segregated schooling is, by its very nature, detrimental to the life chances of the individual. Education must be context-specific and responsive to cultural, ethnic and linguistic needs. This has been recognised as necessary in the UK as far back as the 1960s. Despite this, the Roma continue to face obstacles in accessing education and reaching high academic attainment. The next article in the series will delve more deeply into the specific issues faced by the Roma community in the UK in respect of their access to and enjoyment of the right to education.
 
If you would like to contribute to the Roma Rights Series please email us
at roma@restlessbeings.org

Comments

Mabrur Ahmed

sadly, segregated teaching is endemic in areas with roma populations in many cities across Europe - when we start separating children based on their ethnic backgrounds, as humanity, we surely have reached our lowest point :(

11 December 2012 delete
Daniel Rivers

I fully agree with Mabrur's comment on separating children based on their ethnicity would be a real low point. It is important that this trend it changed sooner than later. This kind of treatment gives the wrong message to the children and is likely to change their views for the rest of their lives

11 December 2012 delete
Mabrur Ahmed

also, i know personally of roma in this country who have, in school, hidden that they are roma, so that they dont face any undue prejudice, but I wonder if there is any direct research on this area?

12 December 2012 delete
Nancy Kamal

There's been a bit of research in UK about how best to cater for the needs of Roma children - some have suggested 'isolated teaching' where due of their mobility, learning takes place within their caravans.
Essentially they do this remotely and 'attend' the class through wifi.
Some would say that this is a great idea - even if they're travelling at least their learning hasn't stopped.
But what of that essential aspect of integrating?

02 January 2013 delete
Unknown

"The curriculum at these schools was basic and non-individualised so that few, if any, pupils leaving the school were able to read or write which directly impacted their access to further education and employment. Evidence showed that Roma children were systematically and disproportionately placed in these schools because of their racial or ethnic identity and not their intellectual capabilities."

I see that the NGO buffoons become funnier and funnier over time. Maybe some modern Grimm brothers should start collecting all the mythologies that these clowns make up and publish them as a sort of perverse satirical literature.

If the "evidence" showed anything, it showed what everybody knows: That Gypsies are mentally incapable to keep up with the normal school curriculum, letting aside their notorious absenteerism. But according to loony leftist crackpots, when we put Gypsies from practical schools into normal schools, and increase the number of those, who can't even finish 6 grades, everything will be O.K.

13 November 2013 delete
Unknown

http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/179-roma_report.pdf
"Data from 1987 show very high dropout rates in the transition from primary to secondary education and very low attainment rates in vocational apprentice centres."

And that's other people's fault. The racist Czech government still hasn't invented the right funnel, with which they would pour all the necessary knowledge into Gypsies' heads.

"In order to combat the high absenteeism rates the distribution of social benefits was linked to pupils’ attendance rate by the Law on Social Needs No. 422/2003 Coll. The implementation of the law, since January 2004, shows some effect. However, the latest government report claims that “the efforts of many schools to provide quality education to Roma are thwarted by lax attendance and frequent absence, especially among pupils in the upper level of primary schools, even though there are no legislative obstacles in the education system leading to the discrimination of Roma in education."

WHAT?! And we are told that there is not an ethnic group in the world that would have a bigger passion for education than Gypsies! Sure, this must be an invention of the racist Czech government!

13 November 2013 delete