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February 20, 2017
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Features and Commentary

The inclusive education program called
The inclusive education program called "Let's Play Together" at a school in Tbilisi, Georgia. (PHOTO: Antonín Jelínek)

Inclusive education from the Czech Republic to Georgia to the USA

26.1.2017 8:29 If you were to tell people anywhere else in the world that inclusive education was not required by law in the Czech Republic until 2016, they would be shocked. If you were to tell them that the main reason for this change having to be forced onto the system by the state is the absurd number of Romani children attending the so-called "practical schools", they would have a hard time believing you.  full story

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Carmen Russo: The Fight For a Better Future. Battling Racism in Czech Schools

12.1.2017 12:15 A small group of American interns at The New Presence office were exploring the answer to a seemingly difficult question: Why are some Czechs so outwardly racist?  full story

Albín Balát: The curious New Year's maneuvers of the Czech Police

10.1.2017 9:48 Recently photographs and video footage have been appearing on online social networking sites showing various interventions by the Czech Police. These amateur photos and recordings have been viewed several thousand times.  full story

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Filip Sivák: Critical thinking is the greatest benefit of an education

15.12.2016 0:07 On 9 December, the ROMEA organization handed out its traditional Romano Suno awards for the Literary Competition for Romani Students at the American Center in Prague. The contest was announced on the occasion of International Romani Language Day.  full story

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Kate Lapham: School should be a place where children learn how to live in society as citizens, to treat each other with respect, and to solve problems

7.12.2016 17:30 Kate Lapham: School should be a place where children learn how to live in society as citizens, to treat each other with respect, and to solve problems
Interview with Kate Lapham, senior Program Manager, Open Society Education Support Program

First I would like to ask you about whether there are any interesting projects in Europe that we could see as successful examples of integration under challenging circumstances?
There has been a great experience in Northern Ireland around the integration of Catholic and Protestant students. The aim is to put these two groups of students, who had previously been experiencing or still are experiencing the impacts of the conflict there within their own family, into the same school environment so they can learn together and also live together again.  full story

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Renata Berkyová: Who were the guards at Lety by Písek?

7.11.2016 8:58 Even though more than half a century has passed since the camp at Lety by Písek came into existence, to this day that place and especially its story continues to spark tempestuous emotions. For some, the Romani Holocaust is one of the most tragic episodes in the life of the Czech Roma, while for others this controversial topic seems, at a minimum, one that it is appropriate to cast doubt on or to exploit as a way to score votes  full story

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Romani heroes: The "Black" Partisan, Josef Serinek

10.10.2016 8:23 Josef Serinek (1900-1974, sometimes also spelled Serynek), a Czech Roma who went by the code name of Černý ("Black"), was a soldier during the First World War, a prisoner of the Lety concentration camp during the Second World War, and later a Partisan commander. After the end of the Second World War he ran a pub called "U černého partyzána" ("At the Black Partisan's Place") in the Czech town of Svitavy.
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William Lazarus Bila: Roma joining the bandwagon on anti-refugee campaigns

6.10.2016 10:27 I am angry and disappointed. Despite the recent Hungarian Migrant Quota Referendum being deemed invalid and not succeeding in obtaining enough voter participation to have any significant meaning, the Hungarian Prime Minister and his followers have already begun spinning this failure into a success story for the delusional and uninformed. We need to stop this, for Europe.  full story

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Martin Dudi: I want to become a teacher or work with children from poor families

5.10.2016 14:52 Martin Dudi is a 22-year-old Romani student from Písek who comes from a family that does its best to uphold Romani customs and traditions and even still speaks the Romanes language. Until the age of three he only spoke Romanes at home, and he did not begin to use Czech until he went to preschool.  full story

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US Professor Ian Hancock on the Miss Roma competition: Romani girls don't need to sell their beauty

26.9.2016 21:21 The finale of the 16th annual competition "Miss Czechoslovak Roma", which was held on Saturday, 24 September in the Czech town of Hodonín, prompted many different reactions. In addition to commentaries on social networking sites, Petr Uhl published a critical article about the Romani beauty contest on news server  full story

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International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance met with Czech Government about removing the pig farm at Lety concentration camp site

18.9.2016 14:16 On 12 July an International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) delegation including the IHRA Chair, Ambassador Mihnea Constantinescu, attended high level meetings in the Czech Republic to discuss the future of the former concentration camp site of Lety u Pisku where a pig farm currently stands. Martina Maschke, Chair of the IHRA Committee on the Genocide of the Roma and Mirjam Karoly, ODIHR's Senior Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues formed part of the delegation and reflect below on their visit to the site.
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Is Czech folk singer's new song racism or social commentary?

19.8.2016 10:05 Is the Czech folk singer Jaromír Nohavica continuing his previous racism, or is his most recent song actually an apt criticism of society? It's very difficult to unequivocally tell, but Nohavica's previous seriously-intended anti-Romani song should be a warning.  full story

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Daniela Cincibusová: Reflections on a visit to a former death factory

16.8.2016 9:48 Oświęcim, a small town in southern Poland, is infamous as the location of Auschwitz, the Nazis' biggest concentration and extermination camp not just for Jewish people, but also for Romani people and anybody who did not conform. Many innocent people died there.  full story

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Commentary: After you visit the music festival in Ostrava, take a look at the ghetto

21.7.2016 9:57 It used to be called "Black Ostrava". That was in the days when the motto was "We're miners and we're the best."  full story

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Prarthna Johri: Being an American in Prague is a curious thing

1.7.2016 14:57 There are practices vastly different here, such as the pleasantness of people you sit with on a train. You will get a warm, “Dobrý den!” and when you leave you’ll receive a “Na shlédanou!”. The brusqueness of the waiters and waitresses is another change but my personal jury is still out on whether the fake happiness of tip-motivated American waiters is better than the genuine lack of caring.
 full story

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Parent of child with Down Syndrome writes open letter to Czech tabloid waging anti-inclusive education campaign

25.3.2016 18:46 Tomáš Hečko, the parent of a child with Down Syndrome, was approached by the tabloid daily Blesk in the Czech Republic for an interview on the topic of inclusive education and decided not to give them one. "Your newspaper has abandoned the pretense of even attempting to appear objective and instead of providing information is leading a campaign - a campaign against several thousand children with mild mental disability who are exercising their right to an inclusive education (or who want to do so in future) in the mainstream primary schools. You are also waging this campaign against us, the parents," he wrote in an open letter to the Blesk reporter.  full story

Yaron Matras, linguist at the University of Manchester specializing in Romani and other languages (PHOTO:

Yaron Matras: Do Roma need protection from themselves? The Council of Europe comes under fire from academics for reinforcing prejudice

24.3.2016 23:43 Almost one hundred academic researchers specialising in Romani studies have signed an open letter to the Council of Europe’s Secretary General, Thorbjørn Jagland, expressing their concern about a recent Council of Europe communication announcing its new four-year Thematic Action Plan on Roma and Traveller Inclusion. They take issue with the statement’s depiction of Roma as having a pre-disposition to early marriage, violence, organised crime and begging, and say that such suggestions contribute to, rather than confront stigmatisation and prejudice.  full story

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Karel Holomek: Our children, Czech and Romani, need to go to school together now more than ever

9.2.2016 21:02 Here in the Czech Republic we have all been talking about the terminology being used to describe the education of children in the primary schools. Of course, it is the impact of these education programs that has such a basic, determining influence on all of society once the children educated in these programs grow up.  full story

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František Kostlán: Neo-Nazis and the "optimists" are not equivalents, all democrats should oppose extremism

9.2.2016 3:25 We have made a mistake. We have let a discussion arise in Czech society asserting that the followers of former Czech President Havel, the "optimists" or the "truth-lovers", are just one side of the same coin as the fascists, neo-Nazis and populists of this society.  full story

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Separate, Unequal and Hazardous: The essential guide to Roma housing in Slovakia

22.1.2016 11:14 The Slovak Anti-Poverty Network argues that “housing and the protection of the right to housing is the weakest component of public policies”.1 There is a shortage of affordable accommodation; despite the growing number of applicants for social housing, public authorities rarely build new flats, and the number of flats available for rent is low and falls way short of the demand. Programs promoting social mix (more affluent social classes living with the poorer) are entirely missing.  full story

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