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Czech Romani Studies scholar says that when Roma do well, so does all of society

27.3.2015 22:25
Zbyněk Andrš (PHOTO:   Jana Šustová)
Zbyněk Andrš (PHOTO: Jana Šustová)

"The values held by Romani people are basically the same values as those held by the majority society," Mgr. Zbyněk Andrš, Ph.D., an ethnologist and Romani Studies scholar from the Social Sciences Department at the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Pardubice said in an interview for news server EuroZprá Andrš says the reason that a large number of Romani people perform unskilled labor and enjoy lower standards of living is that their access to the authorities and to education is comparatively worse.  

The scholar says the Czech education system does not know how to work with children from different cultural and linguistic environments. During the 1970s and 1980s there were efforts to integrate Romani people into mainstream society in the former Czechoslovakia, but we frequently encounter the opposite result.  

Andrš believes that a big role is played by the attitude of the majority society:  "Romani people are not some sort of foreign body in civil society, but are an integral component of it. The better off Romani people will be, the better society will be as a whole."

When asked what led him to take an interest in Romani people, Andrš said he was first interested in North American Indians, who are currently in many respects in a similar situation to Roma in Europe. Most Native American Indian languages are dying out and indigenous people themselves are grappling with cultural deprivation, the diseases of civilization, and poverty.   

tev, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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