Slovak education system fails Romani children
14 November 2007
Huge numbers of children are being segregated into Roma-only schools, while others are being placed in 'special' schools despite not having any mental or learning disabilities.
In some parts of eastern Slovakia, 100 per cent of schools are segregated. Romani children often receive a second-rate education and have a very limited chance of progressing beyond compulsory schooling. In 2006, only 3 per cent of Roma children reached secondary school.
"Regardless of their individual abilities, Romani children receive a substandard education in segregated classes. The failure of the government to provide adequate education for them blights their future employment prospects and adds to a cycle of marginalization and poverty for Roma people," said Nicola Duckworth, head of Amnesty International's Europe programme.
Many Roma view education as key to improving their prospects. Yet Romani parents are pressured to accept segregation as normal, and even beneficial, for their children. However, studies revealed that up to half of Romani children in special schools or classes had been placed there incorrectly, while 10 per cent could immediately be integrated into mainstream schools and classes.
Romani children are put at an immediate disadvantage at school entry age, because they usually do not speak Slovak and have not had the benefit of pre-school education. Once they are assigned to special schools, the door leading back to mainstream education is often shut.
Some positive measures have been introduced, such as preparatory classes, the employment of teaching assistants and financial incentives for schools to integrate Romani children. But all these provisions are entirely optional, meaning they are often not implemented at local level, and monitoring by the central government is absent.
The Slovakian government must show leadership and direction in the reversal of discrimination in education. As a first step, it must make an immediate political commitment to eradicate segregated education of Roma. The European Union must support efforts to end the violation of the right to education by providing necessary financial and technical assistance and monitoring its use. Crucially, it must ensure the full participation of the Roma community in setting and implementing policies and programmes that affect their lives.
Discrimination in education cultivates the marginalization of the Romani community. Poverty and lack of opportunity at the beginning of the lives of Romani children should not condemn them to a life of the same.
Slovakia: Still separate, still unequal: Violations of the right to education of Romani children in Slovakia: Summary
Date Published: 15 November 2007
Categories: Slovak Republic
This is the summary of the report EUR 72/001/2007 which shows that Romani children in Slovakia continue to be largely segregated in practice in inferior education. Underlying causes of violations of the access to the right to education of Romani children have not been effectively and consistently tackled. Amnesty International is calling on the government of Slovakia to commit to tackling segregation.