Prešov Regional Court has confirmed a historic verdict in the case of discrimination against Roma in the education system issued by a district court in January 2012. The senate ruled that an elementary school in Šarišské Michaľany discriminated against pupils by creating separate classrooms for children located on separate floors. As of the next school year the school must put the children into mixed classes, the Sme daily reported on October 31.
School representatives explained that they did not separate children according to their ethnicity, but based on the fact that they came from a socially-disadvantaged environment. The majority of pupils so classified came from a nearby Roma settlement in Ostrovany, Sme wrote.
“Six children from trouble-free families and 12 pupils from a socially-disadvantaged environment. What has this to do with the education of the nation?” said the headmaster of the school in Šarišské Michaľany, Jaroslav Valaštiak, as quoted by Sme, after the ruling.
Valaštiak is now afraid that parents will decide to put their children in other schools, Sme wrote.
“Amnesty International welcomes the decision of the court, which is a signal to the Slovak education system and especially the Education Ministry and other competent bodies that separation of Roma children in segregated classes is a violation of the anti-discrimination law,” said Barbora Černušáková from Amnesty International (AI) in London, according to a press release.
Though it says that the ruling shows that segregation in not acceptable, AI warns that similar cases are occurring in other places, where Roma children are being placed in separate classes or special schools. One example is an elementary school in Levoča which, after pressure from parents, separated first-grade Roma from non-Roma pupils. Though the school placed some children in mixed classes, the segregated classes still exist, AI stated in its press release.
Sources: Sme, Amnesty International press release
For more information about this story please see: Court ruling opens door to integration
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
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