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Czech EdMin says Amnesty International report is not based on true facts

24.4.2015 23:45
Marcel Chládek, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports (PHOTO:  www.msmt.cz)
Marcel Chládek, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports (PHOTO: www.msmt.cz)

A recent report by Amnesty International (AI) criticizing the discrimination of Romani people in the Czech education system is not based on true facts, according to Czech Education Minister Marcel Chládek (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD). The minister alleges that AI staffers learned from the Czech School Inspectorate that one of their suspicions was not confirmed but failed to inform Secretary-General Salil Shetty of that fact.    

Speaking at a press conference on 24 April, the minister re-emphasized his contention that the Czech school system does not discriminate against Romani people. The AI staffers concerned are said to have visited the Czech School Inspectorate to report that a primary school in Ostrava had set up its education program in a way that did not correspond to the Framework Primary Education Program.  

In practice, the findings would have meant that children would have had no chance of accessing an education comparable to that provided by other primary schools. According to Tomáš Zatloukal, the Central School Inspector, the Czech School Inspectorate investigated the allegations and could not confirm them.  

The minister says he is bothered by the fact that the AI leadership never learned that the allegations had been refuted. "That staffer did not inform them of what was found by the Inspectorate. They had the information that their findings were refuted and they didn't use it," he said.  

Chládek intends to inform the AI Secretary-General and is considering other steps, such as filing a complaint. On Thursday, AI reported that the discrimination of Romani people in the Czech education system persists.  

In addition to a disproportionately high number of Romani pupils in the "practical primary schools", the report claims that Romani people face discrimination in mainstream education as well. Mainstream schools with all-Romani cohorts - segregated schools - are being formed, and at schools known to provide higher-quality instruction, the few Romani people who do manage to access them are bullied, according to the report.  

Chládek once again thoroughly objected to the conclusions of the report by the renowned international organization for human rights protection. The Czech education system, in his view, is not set up to discriminate.  

The minister said he believes any cases in which the right to equal access to education is violated are isolated incidents and called on those so afflicted to file complaints with the Czech School Inspection Authority, which he said will investigate them. He also said the current Government is doing its best to include socially disadvantaged children, including Romani children, into mainstream schools.

Chládek also reminded the press that fewer and fewer Romani pupils are now being educated according to the reduced curricula for the mentally disabled. He also claimed that the EU has acknowledged the progress that the Czech Republic has made in this area.

The minister then said that this acknowledgment probably bothered some people. "I think some organizations are basically making their livings because someone is discriminated against somewhere and they have turned it into a business. They are bothered that progress is being made," he said.

The report published by AI on Thursday was based on qualitative research performed in Brno, České Budějovice, Děčín and Ostrava. The researchers spoke with dozens of Romani children, their parents, and with school directors and teachers.  

In addition to the disproportionate enrollment of Romani children into the "practical schools", the report says discrimination also consists of the creation of "Romani" mainstream schools and the frequent bullying of Romani children in primary schools with better reputations, where Romani children are significantly in the minority. The report alleges that the country's education legislation is not being successfully enforced in practice.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Amnesty International, Diskriminace, Marcel Chládek, Romové, Vzdělávání



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