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March 19, 2019
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EU Fundamental Rights Agency: Czech Republic's Roma still have problems accessing education, housing and jobs

14.3.2019 17:19
The European Union flag.
The European Union flag.

The situation of Romani people in the Czech Republic has improved in most areas and is better than that of other EU states with large Romani minorities. Despite this fact, Romani inhabitants of the Czech Republic are, in comparison with other Roma in Europe, still much worse off when it comes to education, housing and jobs.

Those are the findings of surveys done by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). The results were presented yesterday afternoon in Prague by Jaroslav Kling of FRA at a conference about the new program from Norway Grants supporting human rights, Romani integration, and the prevention of violence against women.

FRA compared data from 2011 and 2016 from more than two dozen EU countries. "Our data demonstrate a slightly positive development (in the Czech Republic) on the inclusion of Roma, but not in all areas," Kling said.

According to the FRA representative, while the situation in the Czech Republic for Romani people "doesn't look so bad" in comparison with other EU countries that have big populations of Roma, there are "abysmal differences" between non-Roma and Roma in the Czech Republic. For example, in the year 2011, 29 % of Romani children aged four and younger attended preschool, while by the year 2016, 34 % of Roma children in that age group were in preschool.

Even though the proportion of Romani children in preschool has increased, it is still, according to Kling, "miles away" from the proportion of non-Romani children in preschool. The vast majority of children in the Czech Republic have always attended preschool.

After completing their compulsory school attendance, many Romani schoolchildren do not continue their studies. In 2011, 72 % of Roma youth did not continue, while in 2016, 57 % did not continue.

For non-Romani children, the proportion of those who did not continue on to secondary education increased from 5 % in 2011 to 7 % in 2016. Also, in 2011, 43 % of Romani youth between the ages of 16 and 24 were neither studying nor working.

By the year 2016, that number had risen to 51 %. Among their non-Romani peers the proportions were 8 % in 2011 and 7 % in 2016.

Around two-fifths of Roma are officially employed in the Czech Republic compared to approximately 75 % of non-Roma. Kling pointed out that just one-third of Romani women in the country have jobs.

Poverty in 2011 endangered four-fifths of Romani people, while in 2016 it endangered 58 % of them. Overall in the Czech Republic, however, just one-tenth of the population lives on the edge of poverty.

In 2011, almost one-third of the Czech Republic's Roma population could not afford to buy enough food and went to sleep hungry at least once a week as a result, while one-fifth of the general population was in that position in 2016. Almost one-fifth of Romani inhabitants live in dilapidated, poor-quality housing in the country compared to just 4 % of non-Roma.

The findings demonstrate there is still segregation of Roma in education, discrimination against Roma looking for employment and housing, and attacks on Romani people, Kling pointed out. A total of 34 % of Romani people told the researchers they were aware of somebody Roma in their surroundings who had been targeted for attack.

"In comparison with other countries, what is probably the biggest problem in the Czech Republic is the discrimination of Romani people on the housing market. We saw improvements in most indicators, but here [for housing] we saw deterioration," Kling pointed out.

According to the FRA representative, there are no data or statistics in the Czech Republic thanks to which it would be possible to measure whether the provisions adopted by the state are having an effect on these phenomena or not. A new subsidy program from Norway Grants should support the collection and evaluation of such data.

The Norway Grants funding focuses on three areas: Inclusion of Roma, human rights, and preventing violence against women. The Czech Finance Ministry will launch its calls to apply for a subsidy from Norway Grants this year.

It will be possible to draw on the funding through the year 2024. The support from Norway Grants is meant to contribute to projects that ameliorate the economic and social differences between people and strengthen their relationships.

The Czech Republic is able to draw on EUR 19 million from the program in order to bolster human rights, Roma inclusion and the prevention of violence against women. The Czech state is contributing about CZK 85 million [EUR 3.3 million].

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Housing, Práce, Průzkum, Romani people



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