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Romani rappers: Avoid Czech practical primary schools

Praha, 12.2.2013 0:08, (ROMEA)
From the filming of the video
From the filming of the video "Nebuď dilino!" ("Don't be stupid!") (PHOTO: Slovo 21)

"Send him to a grade school/so he can be somebody/he may be a Gypsy/but he's not dilino" ("Pošlete ho do základky, aby z něj něco bylo – i když je Cigán, tak není dilino") budding Romani hip-hop artists from Prague's Žižkov neighborhood rap in their new music video "Nebuď dilino!" (“Don't be stupid!"). The four Romani boys have broken through with their group United GipsyCrew online and a single in which they proudly declare their Romani origins.

In the new video, the rappers clearly proclaim that Romani children belong in mainstream primary schools, not in "practical primary schools". The video clip portrays not only the talented youth, but successful Romani people from various generations and professions.

The video was produced as part of a project run by the Slovo 21 civic association and financed by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung. The piece is an effort not only to impact Romani parents, but also to address the broader public and draw attention to the segregation of Romani children in the Czech schools.

The video was filmed last fall at various places around Prague, from university campuses to the studios of Czech Television. In addition to the budding rappers, several successful Romani people are featured - a nurse, a PhD student in pedagogy, a well-known television news anchor, and a voice teacher. The lyrics, which call on Romani parents to enroll their children into the mainstream primary schools, were originally written by the young rappers and then finalized in collaboration with the popular Romani artist and moderator Vojtěch Lavička.

"Those guys are all sweethearts - dear, funny, talented and wild. They're at the start of their careers and I did my best to tell them it's primarily up to them how far they go," says video director Markéta Nešlehová.

In addition to exhorting parents not to enroll their offspring into the "practical primary schools", Nešlehová says the video also does its best to show majority viewers that a self-confident young generation of Romani people is growing up now:  "This is a generation that speaks up, that doesn't want to be yet another generation lost somewhere between the 'practical primary schools' and the Labor Office. Young Romani people have what it takes, much more than the majority population thinks they do."

The video was originally screened primarily to Romani parents from various regions around the Czech Republic as part of workshops informing them about the importance of a high-quality education for their children. "After the song and the video were created, we realized we had managed to make something that can address broader segments of the population and draw attention to the larger topic of inclusive education. The song and video seem like a good way to reach ordinary people and to get them instinctively to think about the fact that there are children in this country who are not receiving a quality education and therefore being cut off from many opportunities in life," explains Martina Horváthová of the Slovo 21 association.

Horváthová believes Czech mainstream schools currently create almost no conditions for the inclusion of children with various disadvantages. "Many Romani children flunk out of the system as it is now set up, they experience failure and grapple with prejudice and unfair attitudes from their fellow pupils and their teachers. That's why Romani children end up at the 'practical primary schools' even when intellectually they have the capacity to achieve a classical primary education," Horváthová believes.

Incorrect diagnoses from educational psychological counseling centers, discriminatory behavior by schools, and a lack of awareness among Romani parents are, in Horváthová's view, the biggest reasons Romani children are enrolled into the special education system. Roughly half of the children attending the "practical primary schools" are Romani. Horváthová says that number exceeds the average rate of "light mental retardation" in the population.

The civic association Slovo 21, which was behind the idea of the video clip, has long done its best to support education in the Romani community. Through the widest possible variety of projects, the association has supported Romani people for 10 years in applying to colleges, contributing toward the creation of a Romani elite.

"We prepare young Romani people to take entrance exams, we motivate them, raise awareness among them, and support them. We start with children at the primary schools," explains Horváthová, who coordinates projects focused on Romani youth.

The segregation of Romani children has long been criticized by various international institutions. In 2007 a group of children from Ostrava won a lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights, which found that the Czech Republic had violated their right to a full-fledged education by incorrectly enrolling them into what were at the time called "special schools".

On the basis of that judgment in the "D.H. and Others versus Czech Republic" case, the Czech Government was obligated to get rid of segregation in education. The results of a 2012 investigation by the Czech School Inspectorate, however, showed that even five years after the judgment, segregation has not been completely eliminated from the schools .


Slovo 21, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 1233x

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Děti, Diskriminace, Evropa, Hudba, Multimedia, Osobnosti, Praha, Předsudky, Sociální vyloučení, Systém, Vojtěch Lavička, Aktivismus, Anticiganismus, Cigáni, David Beňák, Inkluzivní vzdělávání, Nebuď dilino!, Občanská společnost, občanské sdružení, Romové, Romská hrdost, Romská reprezentace, segregace, sociální vyloučení, United Gipsy Crew, Czech republic, Education, Entertainment, integration, Praktické školy, Roma, world


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