CHILDREN in re-education centres are starving as a result of a special Education Ministry regulation based on which the centres spend €2-€3 for one whole-day meal for a child. This stems from a report on the activities of the public defender of rights for 2013, which was introduced by Ombudswoman Jana Dubovcová to the parliamentary human rights committee on May 6.

Dubovcová told the MPs that it is necessary to deal with violations of children’s rights, especially in the area of education methods, access to education and nutrition.

“Firstly, I consider it most important to increase funds allocated for the nutrition of children that are placed in boarding schools and re-education centres,” Dubovcová said, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that she discovered current funding is insufficient.

Breakfast for children aged 6-11 in these facilities costs €0.33, while a whole-day meal costs €2.28 per day. The food for 18 year olds costs more: €2.69 per day, according to the ombudswoman.

“I do not consider these amounts sufficient,” Dubovcová told TASR, adding that these children, since they are placed outside their homes, do not have the option to get food from somewhere else.

Dubovcová also said that she views the forms of punishment in re-education centres, like obligatory gynaecological exams when girls return from home, forced hair-cutting or requiring the kids to wear certain colours of clothes when they violate the rules, as a breach of children’s rights.

“I was also pointing to the deficiencies in the approach to the education of children in special schools and classrooms,” Dubovcová said, explaining that in many cases these children cannot attend higher education, like school-leaving exams from secondary schools or university education. “I pointed to the deficiencies in the education of Roma children in pre-school and school preparation.”
Moreover, the ombudswoman called on parliament to establish an independent body to monitor the work of the police. The committee, in which the opposition MPs have majority, has acknowledged the report and also called on parliament to deal with the problem of the ombudswoman’s office. Currently, the ombudswoman functions in rented spaces, TASR wrote.