85,000 join Facebook campaign against voluntary Romani lessons in schools
There’s been an unexpectedly negative reaction to a proposal by the Education Ministry to offer voluntary classes in Romani – the language of the country’s 300,000 Roma or gypsies – in Czech schools. A Facebook campaign against the proposal has already attracted over 85,000 supporters, although the authorities appear undeterred.
Helena Sadílková supports the proposal by the Education Ministry to make Romani lessons a voluntary part of the Czech school curriculum, but says it’s also important to realise that there may be resistance among Roma parents themselves after four decades of official repression under the Communists.
“Parents were for forty years told by the teachers themselves or the social workers not to use the language, and they actually accepted the idea that Romani is a barrier to a good education or even acquiring good Czech. So if you now come to the parents and try to persuade them, let’s try to teach Romani to your kids, you’re actually totally reversing the position that they have taken, and that was taken by the representatives of the education system.”
“It’s a sensitive topic in general, and the only thing that the Education Ministry can do is introduce more integrated forms of education that would put both sides together and hopefully explain and declare that there is no need to fight, there is just need to speak. And what else can help than language. And as I said, it is just offered for certain localities, there will be course, we are just at the beginning, but it doesn’t mean that we are afraid of it or afraid of some groups of people against it. We have to educate – that’s our mission.”