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UK: Romani high school students were misdiagnosed in Czech Republic

London/Prague, 30.11.2011 0:41, (ROMEA)
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The British organization Equality, with the support of the Roma Education Fund, has produced a unique study of migrant Romani children in British schools. The study followed Romani children in the UK who had previously been assigned by the Czech or Slovak school systems to "special schools". After moving to the UK, those same children, thanks to support services, are now completing mainstream educations, including at high schools.

The analysis, entitled "School attainment of Roma pupils: From segregation to integration", was published last week. The research primarily demonstrates that in the UK, the different approach taken towards these children, the effort made on the part of educators and support staff, and the non-discriminating environment that prevails there is capable of producing a result of which most Czech schools still only dream.

Key conclusions of the analysis:

1) 85 % of all of the Romani children "researched" had been assigned to either segregated schools or "special education" in the Czech Republic or Slovakia.

2) The average attainment of the Romani pupils (aged 9-15) in math, the natural sciences and reading skills were only slightly below the average of their peers at British mainstream schools.

3) Only a small percentage of the entire cohort of Romani pupils (2 - 4 %) were diagnosed in the UK as having special educational needs based either in learning difficulties or some other disadvantage which inhibited their educational achievement or their access to education in comparison to their peers. They were provided with the corresponding support at mainstream schools in Britain.

4) None of the children were diagnosed with special educational needs that mainstream schools in the UK could not handle.

5) The vast majority of the Romani pupils interviewed said that in the Czech or Slovak schools they had experienced racially motivated bullying or some form of verbal assault from their non-Romani classmates, as well as discrimination and unequal treatment from their teachers. In some cases, the Romani pupils charged their former teachers with having inflicted corporal punishment on them.

6) In seven out of the nine British localities where the research was conducted, the Romani pupils claimed to have never encountered any manifestations of racism in the British schools. They said the teachers were helpful, nice, and always willing to give them individual time.

7) The vast majority of Romani students who participated in the interviews claimed to prefer school in Britain because it offered them equal opportunities and because discrimination and racism did not exist there.

8) All of the parents participating in the research evaluated as positive the general atmosphere at the schools in the UK and their children's experiences of being welcomed at the schools and treated equally. In the UK, the parents noticed a lack of anti-Romani racism on the part of both non-Romani classmates and teachers compared to what they had encountered in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. All of the parents also said the education and employment of their children had been one of the strongest motivations for their decision to move to Britain. Many parents believe it will take another generation for the educational attitudes and practices to change in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, while many even believe those countries will never change. All of the parents interviewed believe the chances for their children to succeed in life in Britain are much greater than in either the Czech Republic or Slovakia.

A .pdf of the entire study can be downloaded from Equality's web page at: http://equality.uk.com/Education.html

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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