Czech School Inspectorate unequivocally supports collecting "ethnic" statistics
Does it make sense to collect "ethnic data" in the Czech Republic? Specifically, to collect data about Romani people with respect to crime, employment, the number of Romani children in the "practical schools", and social situations?
Could the creation of this kind of statistical data be legal and safe? News server Romea.cz has contacted authorities, politicians, and Romani activists and experts on this issue.
The topic of the collection of "ethnic data" was revived by a recent seminar held in the Czech lower house by the Platform for Human Rights and the ROMEA association. The collection of statistics on Romani people was supported there, for example, by Čeněk Růžička from the Committee for the Redress of the Romani Holocaust.
"If society is supposed to aid us Roma somehow, it must have data about us. I am an indigenous Czech Rom and our community has experienced being 'inventoried' several times and we know repressive units of the state have misused that information. Even though, as a Rom, I am aware of this enormous problem, I nevertheless agree that data should be collected about us," Růžička said at the seminar.
Hana Löffelmannová, press spokesperson, General Directorate of the Prison Services
The creation of statistics focusing on Romani people is possible only on the presumption that the person concerned self-identifies as Romani. During the last census in 2011, only 5 199 citizens identified themselves as of Romani nationality here.
It is not essential to the work of the Prison Services to know the nationality of an imprisoned person. The presumption of innocence applies to the accused and convicts are entitled to the same rights under conditions and to extent prescribed by the law on serving prison sentences. The purpose of serving a prison sentence is, among other things, to impact convicts so as to reduce the danger of recidivism and facilitate their leading independent lives in accordance with the law after release, irrespective of their nationality.
Such statistics are irrelevant with regard to the integration of national minorities or other minorities as far as fulfilling the purpose of serving sentences goes.
David Pavlát, Office for the Protection of Personal Information
The Office for the Protection of Personal Information has long focused on the issue of processing data about Romani people, whether personal data or statistics. The Office is fully aware of the dangers that accompany the processing of such sensitive data. Therefore, in all cases where the Office is asked about this issue, its response is that it is necessary to fully respect the principles of privacy protection, including personal data. This particularly concerns the minimizing of the processing of personal data and ensuring what it will be used for.
As far as "ethnic statistical data" goes, what applies here from the perspective of the law on the protection of personal data is a basic distinction, whether it is possible, on the basis of this data, to identify a specific physical person (in which case the rules established by the law apply), or whether this is anonymous data, which are data for which it is not possible, in any way, to work backward from it an assign it to a specific person (in which case this is not personal data in the sense of the law and therefore does not fall under the remit of the Office). Nothing from the perspective of the law on the protection of personal data prevents the collection of statistics; the processing of sensitive data, on the contrary, requires an express basis in law, primarily in a specific legal norm. The risks are significant, as sensitive data is always highly exploitable.
What remains a question is the subjectivity of this demarcation (according to the most recent census, approximately 13 000 people self-identified as Roma, while socio-culturally the number can be considered approximately 200 000 people), the possibility for verification, and what the demarcation is used for.
Josef Bocán, press spokesperson, Police Presidium
To fulfill the tasks established by law for the Police of the Czech Republic, we do not current need to maintain crime statistics in relation to ethnicity or nationality. The fact must be taken into consideration that anyone can freely identify as any nationality and can change that nationality at will over the course of a lifetime. That is why maintaining such statistics would very probably not correspond to reality. Another perspective is that maintaining crime statistics in relation to nationality might be felt by some associations or other organizations to actually be discriminatory.
Ondřej Andrys, Deputy Central School Inspector
The Czech School Inspectorate unequivocally supports the collection of socioeconomic data for the purpose of using it to address, for example, discrimination against ethnic and national minorities, and is already taking specific steps in this area. In the area of integration and pro-inclusion steps, the Czech School Inspectorate intends to collect, evaluate and interpret the socioeconomic data unequivocally necessary to evaluating the quality of education, its conditions, the course of education and its outcomes so that the qualitative findings are complete, relevant and respecting all of the specifics that are absolutely crucial.
The Czech School Inspectorate is very well aware that increasing inequality in access to education is one of the big risks of these times, despite the fact that equal access to education has long been part of the priority aims of education policy (equal access is, moreover, guaranteed, e.g., by the Constitution of the Czech Republic, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Schools Act). We identify with the opinion expressed by experts with the Organization for Economic Cooperation andvDevelopment (OECD) that the education systems that perform best are those that manage to connect equality in education to quality of education.
The socioeconomic characteristics of pupils have a significant influence on their success in education and it is a fact that pupils' results in the Czech Republic are highly dependent on the socioeconomic characteristics of their school environment (in the OECD's comparison across countries, the Czech Republic is among the five countries where socioeconomic background has the strongest influence on a pupil's educational results).
The Czech School Inspectorate, within the framework of a project designed for the Operational Programme Research, Development and Education, intends to create a new, comprehensive methodology facilitating the evaluation of the socioeconomic background of schools and the fairness of the education system, the aim of which is the continual collection of data, the publication of reports on this topic, and regular evaluation of the fairness of the system.
A system for the collection and evaluation of data will, therefore, be designed in order to judge the degree of fairness of the education system and the socioeconomic conditions for education in each school, including indicators about the level of the education system that will be designed in collaboration with other administrators of data collection (the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Czech Statistical Bureau, etc.).
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