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Czech daycare club helps Romani parents who can't afford preschool

Ústí nad Labem, 6.11.2014 1:20, (ROMEA)

News server Aktuálně.cz reports that the People in Need organization is in the second year of running a children's daycare group at the Mojžíř housing estate in Ústí nad Labem, serving Romani children. Approximately 10 preschoolers between the ages of three and five attend the group daily.  

More children than that wouldn't even fit in the small space of the apartment where they gather. Most of them come from impoverished Romani families in the neighborhood.

Their coexistence with other residents is not ideal. "One lady went to the town hall to complain about our group for so long that they raised our rent. Before that we paid half as much," says Vít Kučera, who leads the group.  

"They come here because their parents cannot afford a regular preschool," he explains. Even when a preschool forgives tuition, it would still cost parents CZK 1 000 per month for a child to attend, fees that cover the cost of meals and tickets to a wide variety of events.

Most of the people living at Mojžíř are on welfare. Even parents  who might be able to afford preschool do not trust the regular nursery schools.  

Recently rumors were being spread that a local preschool was beating the children in its care and shutting them up in the cellar. The children's club, located off of the entrance to one of the apartment buildings on the estate, is a different kind of opportunity.  

Services are provided there for free and the tutors sometimes visit the children's families at home - for example, if there is a need to tutor an older sibling in math. "We hold events for the whole family as well - this summer we all went camping," Kučera said.    

The group leader said he had never seen so many people participate in a camping trip as he had at Mojžíř - when a child's parents participate, all of his or her siblings come along as well. The housing estate  residents are grappling with many problems - debt, housing and job struggles.

Despite this, the children's group's tutors do their best to convince Romani parents to enroll their children into a regular nursery school. The local facility reportedly has no problems with capacity.

"That's why we take them on an excursion to the preschool every week. We want the children to get used to it," Michaela, a teacher with the children's group, told Aktuálně.cz.

Aktuálně.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Člověk v tísni, Sociální vyloučení, Ústí nad Labem, Vzdělávání



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