Reader feedback: Education is key

Report finds appalling Roma conditions, News brief, Jan 27 - Feb 2, Vol 9, No 3

During my stay in Slovakia, I was shocked at the level of racism against the Roma and the ease with which Slovaks justified their viewpoints. They often compared the Roma situation with that of American blacks, showing the universality of the problem.

I had the opportunity to meet several Roma while I lived there. Those that I met had jobs, good manners, and were clean. I was amazed at the stares the Roma would receive when we went to a cafe or bar for some relaxation. I realized that I would rather be a black man in Mississippi in the 1950s than be a Roma in central Europe today.

As the country continues to grow stronger, it is my hope that the Slovak people will also develop a social conscience that will force them to confront the Roma issue in a fair manner and begin work to raise the Roma's ability to compete fairly in Slovak society. They should start by providing educational opportunities to the Roma that are on a par with those of Slovak children. They should abolish the "retarded Roma" classrooms and provide a nurturing curriculum to help Roma children become better educated. I say, start with education.

Thom Vanecko

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