Czech Republic: Non-Romani and Romani students discuss democracy
On the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, the ROMEA civic association held a discussion between non-Romani and Romani students about democracy and freedom in Prague on Friday, 15 November. Bára Procházková, editor-in-chief of the society monthly Bel Mondo, which works with the RESPEKT weekly, was the moderator.
Students of the Technical University in Liberec, the Open Gate Boarding School, the Lauder Schools, the Evangelical Academy and the Prague International Conservatory participated in the event. The meeting was the culmination of a project called "Promotion and support of education with the aid of successful Romani figures", which aims to promote education, connect students to potential future employers, involve them in civil society activity, and demonstrate that students are actually interested in the topics of democracy and freedom.
"I am ecstatic that the students were not afraid to go into these topics in-depth and I was very pleased by the level of the discussion. I hope the meeting was as beneficial to them as it was to me," said project coordinator Petra Zahradníková.
The discussion was preceded by two workshops, one in Ostrava and one in Ústí nad Labem, at which Romani students met with representatives of local administrations and nonprofits working regularly with children and students in the Moravian-Silesian and Ústí Regions. The students also received information about study opportunities, including opportunities abroad.
In both of those regions the students were also involved in another ROMEA project working at selected primary schools with a mixed group of children and a team comprised of a member of the faculty, a Romani mentor, and a fine artist. In addition to regular meetings, this collaboration resulted in the children creating collages on the topics of democracy and human rights.
Those artworks were exhibited at the theater where Friday's discussion took place and provided a unique artistic background to the speakers on the podium. Children from the Karasova Primary School in Ostrava performed during the afternoon together with their Romani mentor, Lukrecius Kišš, as did children from the Dolní Podluží Primary School, who were mentored by Marcela Surmajová.
This work is the continuation of other long-running ROMEA projects supporting college and high school students and collaborating with its "Romani Mentor" project, which involves groups of children meeting with Romani mentors who are professionals in their fields. The collaboration between the children and college students who have received scholarships from the Roma Education Fund program is always particularly interesting.
"Promotion and support of education with the aid of successful Romani figures" is financed by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. ROMEA would also like to thank Amnesty International for their support in implementing the project and the Korunní Street Theater in Prague (Divadlo v Korunní) for providing cooperation, space and support.
More information about the project can be found (in Czech only) at http://www.romea.cz/sdruzeniromea/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=189:propagace-a-podpora-vzdlavani-za-pomoci-uspnych-romskych-osobnosti&catid=28:vzdelavaci&Itemid=63&lang=cs and in the October edition of the monthly Romano voďi (also in Czech only).
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