THOUSANDS of Roma children in Slovakia are starting another new school year in separate schools and classes, human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) recently noted in its September report.
In the report, entitled Unfulfilled Promises: Failing to end segregation of Roma pupils in Slovakia, which was released on September 4, AI accuses the Slovak government of being inactive with regard to the segregation of Roma children in Slovak schools.
“It is high time the Slovak authorities end the discriminatory practice of segregation in education and recognise their responsibility to ensure that all children in the country have equal access to quality education,” said Jezerca Tigani, the AI’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia Programme. “Otherwise, the lives of these children will be blighted for ever by inferior education, humiliation and separation.”
According to a 2012 United Nations Development Programme survey, around 43 percent of Roma in mainstream schools were enrolled in ethnically segregated classes.
By failing to introduce a comprehensive national reform the Slovak government is tolerating unlawful discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity in education, AI stated in a release.
The AI report specifically mentions the case of the local primary school in Šarišské Michaľany in eastern Slovakia, where Roma children used to be placed in separate classes.
In October 2012 the court ruled that the practice violated the Anti-Discrimination Act and infringed human dignity.
The school was ordered to change the arrangements for Roma pupils by the beginning of 2013-2014 school year.
The widespread and continued segregation of Roma school children in Slovakia has wider implications as the authorities of the country are also breaching international human rights laws, and European Union (EU) anti-discrimination legislation.
The European Commission has the responsibility, the obligation and the tools to ensure that member states comply with EU law, including through infringement proceedings, AI said.
9. Sep 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff