Educator Martin Kaleja: From the Romani settlements in Slovakia to the Czech academic world
Doc. PhDr. et PhDr. Martin Kaleja, Ph.D gradually acquired his professional experience as an educator and researcher at Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic), Ostrava University (Czech Republic), Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia) and Silesian University in Opava (Czech Republic), where he is currently Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Public Policies and Associate Professor at the Center for Empirical Research. He is a member of the Czech Government Council on Romani Community Affairs, chairing its Working Group on Education.
Kaleja spent spent his childhood and part of his teenage years in a Romani settlement near Prešov in eastern Slovakia and wanted to become a teacher from a very early age. The Slovak news server Zivot.sk has now published an interview with him.
During his journey toward an education and a scholarly career, Kaleja encountered prejudice beginning in primary school. In the interview he recalls his childhood in the settlement, his studies at college preparatory school, and how his teachers saw him.
Kaleja believes that an increasing number of Romani people graduating from higher education in this part of the world will not likely show up as a dramatic spike from one day to the next, but will be a more incremental process. Reflecting on life today, he observed: "After all, even today it's the case that if a skinhead gets onto a tram looking for a specific kind of person, he will see 'them'. It would be difficult to explain to such a person that I am an associate professor teaching at several schools... It probably wouldn't even help if I were some sort of extraordinary professor at a foreign university. What would the skinhead say to that? Maybe he thinks he's president of the world."
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