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Council of Europe says Czech Republic not doing enough to teach the Romani language

25.9.2020 8:19
The building of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. (PHOTO:  Elwood j blues, Wikimedia Commons)
The building of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. (PHOTO: Elwood j blues, Wikimedia Commons)

On Wednesday, 23 September, the Council of Europe called on the Czech Republic to continue improving its protection of minority languages and said that the country has taken steps in a positive direction toward the protection of the German, Moravian Croatian and Polish languages. However, the international body also reminded the authorities that not enough is being done to teach the Romani language in the primary and secondary schools.

"Romani continues to be taught on a very limited scale in mainstream primary and secondary education, and it is not used in pre-school. The situation is better in higher education as Romani can be studied at several universities," the Council of Europe's report states.

The only primary school in the Czech Republic where instruction of Romani is available is the Florián Bayer Primary School in Kopřivnice, and it is also taught at two secondary schools, one in Česká Krumlova and one in Jihlava, according to the report. The Czech authorities, according to the Council of Europe, do acknowledge that instruction of the Romani language in the primary and secondary schools is insufficient.

The Czech Government argues this is a consequence of low interest in the Romani language among parents and pupils. The Council of Europe has also once again rebuked the Czech Republic for requiring 10 % of a local population to be speakers of a language before local authorities are required to install bilingual signs there.

That issue primarily concerns the Polish minority in Silesia. According to the Council of Europe, the 10 % threshold is too high, and they have called on the Czech authorities to support bilingual signage independently of a local population reaching a certain limit.

The report praises the Czech Republic for planning a project to teach the German language at primary schools in Cheb and in Jablonec nad Nisou, which is meant to begin during the 2020/2021 school year. Other programs to teach German in the primary schools could begin in other municipalities located in areas where the German-speaking minority previously lived.

The report also welcomes the Czech Republic's activities to support the Moravian Croatian language. At the end of this year a museum about this language is meant to open in Jevišovice, South Moravia.

The Czech authorities have supported the creation of the museum and a project for the remote teaching of Moravian Croatian. The Council of Europe's report is based on the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which took effect in the Czech Republic in 2007, and is about the degree to which the charter is upheld.

Its provisions apply in the Czech Republic to the German, Moravian Croatian, Polish, Romani and Slovak languages. This most recent report does not mention anything about developments in the protection of Slovak.

The Council of Europe was established in 1949 and has 47 member states; it is not an institution of the European Union. The Council is an international organization monitoring and supporting the cooperation of European countries in areas such as human rights protection, combating all forms of discrimination, developing democracy, harmonization of legal codes, and protecting culture and the environment.

ČTK, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Council of Europe, Czech Republic, Romani language, study



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