Students highlight segregation in education during Roma Week
This week, a group of university students is organizing a series of events in Prague focused on the segregation of Roma children in Czech schools and the media image of the country’s Romani minority. Held in cooperation with the human rights group AI, the Roma week reiterates concerns about the continued education inequality that the international community has been voicing for some time, and which is a growing issue for young Czechs as well.
The main events of Roma Week are organized by the Amnesty International student group called iPusa. I asked one of the organizers, Adam Podhola, a student at Charles University's Faculty of Social Sciences, why they decided to hold such an event for the second year in a row.
“Personally, I’m fed up with the fact that in our society, which is supposed to be democratic, there is a group that is totally excluded from civil society. So that was maybe the main reason why we decided to do this. It is important to give this marginalized group a voice.”
The campaign follows up on a 2007 verdict by the European Court for Human Rights which ruled in favor of 18 Romani students from the northern city of Ostrava, confirming their families’ claim that they were unjustly placed into so-called special, or practical, schools for disabled children, and denied access to a regular education. The court also stated that this was a common practice in the Czech Republic that needed to be stopped. But five years on, human rights advocates are saying little progress has been made.
“[The tests] will determine with certainty whether a student belongs in a practical school or not.”
iPusa’s annual Roma Week focuses not only on the education but also on the role and position of the Roma in Czech society and the media - holding an exhibit of documentary comics and photographs from different Roma communities, hosting film screenings as well as discussions with experts on media and Roma rights.
Most of the events are being held at Charles University’s Faculty of Education, aiming to expose future teachers to issues of segregation and inclusive education. I asked Adam Podhola what he and his fellow organizers of Roma Week want to convey to the future teachers who are currently studying at the faculty. Here is the advice he had to give:
For more information about the campaign, go to www.ipusa.cz