Roma Students in Special Needs Schools

Amnesty: Czech Republic continuously places Roma pupils in special needs schools

[JURIST] Romani children are continuing to be placed in special needs schools by Czech authorities, despite a European Court of Human Rights [official website] decision [text], Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported[text] Thursday. The case was decided over seven years ago, and involved a group of primary-school Roma children who were placed in schools for children with mild mental-disabilities in the Czech Republic. The court ruled that placing these healthy children in such schools was discrimination. Romani children are over-represented in such chools, even with parental consent safeguards imposed by the government. According to AI Romani children who attend mainstream schools are not treated much better. Many are segregated into “Roma only” schools or classrooms with lower educational standards and are bullied and disenfranchised by peers, teachers and administrators. AI contends discrimination through segregated education is unlawful and leads to limited education and future employment opportunities, trapping Romani children in a cycle of exclusion and marginalization. The European Commission [official website] announced it would initiate proceedings against the Czech Republic for breaching EU anti-discrimination legislation. The Czech Republic is reforming education with the Czech School Act, which aims to include children with special needs into mainstream education, although critics argue state action has been sluggish.

International rights groups have consistently campaigned for improved human rights for the Roma [JURIST report] people living in Europe, now at a population of 10-12 million. Notably, in April 2013 AI issued a press release similar to Tuesday’s report urging the EU to end discrimination against Roma communities throughout Europe. That same month a UN rights expert called for EU member states to do more to ensure basic human rights for the Roma people in Europe, recalling that the UN Human Rights Council [official website] “made nearly 250 recommendations to almost 30 countries concerning the situation of Roma communities.” In January 2013 the European Court of Human Rights condemned [JURIST report] Hungary for segregating Roma students and wrongly placing them in remedial schools.

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