"Special school is the gypsy school."
12-year-old Romani girl, pupil of the special elementary school of Pavlovce nad Uhom
Every child has the right to education without discrimination. In Slovakia, huge numbers of Romani children are denied this right.
They are inappropriately placed in "special schools" or classes for children with mental disabilities, or segregated in Roma-only mainstream schools or classes where they study lower curriculums in virtual isolation from other pupils.
Independent studies suggest that as many as 80 per cent of children placed in special schools in Slovakia are Roma.
Special schools designed for children with mental disabilities provide Romani children with sub-standard and reduced curriculum. There is a four-year gap between the curricula in special and ordinary primary schools which in practice means that 10-year-old children in special primary schools learn basic literacy skills.
"In grade 7 of the special school I learned the same things that I learned in grade 3 of the mainstream school." – 14-year-old Romani boy, found to have been erroneously placed in a special school
A special school in Pavlovce nad Uhom is one of the de facto segregated schools in Slovakia where 99.5 per cent of the approximately 190 pupils are Romani children. According to Amnesty International’s research, this is not an exception.
Amnesty International is concerned that the way assessments are conducted and the criteria used to place a child in a special school could amount to discrimination as they do not take into account effectively cultural and linguistic differences.
Amnesty International believes that thousands of Romani children are erroneously placed in special schools or segregated in Roma only schools across Slovakia.
New education legislation in Slovakia prohibits discrimination, especially in the form of segregation; however no measures exist to ensure this prohibition is implemented in practice.
The failure of the Slovak government to provide adequate education for all Romani children blights their future educational and employment prospects, and adds to a cycle of marginalization and poverty for Romani people.
Amnesty International is calling upon the government of Slovakia to reverse racial discrimination in education and address grave violations of the right to education for Romani children. Take part in our campaign for a real change!