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Forum 2000 opens with debate about segregation of Roma in the Czech schools

14.9.2015 23:24
PHOTO:  Wokandapix,
PHOTO: Wokandapix,

The 19th annual Forum 2000 conference began yesterday in Prague and other Central European cities, this year entitled "Democracy and Education". The event, first launched by former Czech President Václav Havel in 1997, will feature discussions and lectures in three countries and ends Wednesday.  

The conference is being attended by more than 150 delegates from all over the world, including Belarusian activist Ales Byalyacki, former Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová and former South African President Willem de Klerk. It is set to open with a debate on the topic of "How to end segregation in the Czech education system."

"The issue of the unequal education of Romani people in the Czech Republic is a problem that has been discussed for years. Roma have been discussed as people who do not have what it takes to make it through regular primary school, as people for whom 'special school' is enough, as people who certainly do not need either high school diplomas or higher education. That is how Romani pupils have been perceived for decades in the mainstream Czech schools. We also encounter isolated examples of the natural inclusion of Romani children. How can we expand these, what political tools are needed for this, and what will it require from both majority-society parents and from Romani society? We will look for an answer to these questions as part of the debate," writes the ERGO Network, which is a co-organizer of the debate.  

The discussion panel will feature Czech Minister for Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier, Kristýna Grunzová and Magdaléna Karvayová. The debate will be moderated by Ivana Čonková.

Forum 2000 will also discuss whether it is possible to teach democracy in areas without democratic traditions. The topics of the Islamic State and refugees will also be discussed.

In addition to Prague the conference will be held in Brno, České Budějovice, Kutná Hora, Liberec, Litomyšl, Opava, Ostrava and Vodňany, as well as in the German city of Munich and the Slovak city of Žilina. Most events are open to the public and some will be broadcast online.

Forum 2000 was created by Havel, Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa and the author Elie Wiesel. It has been attended by more than 700 world figures over the years, including Burmese dissident Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and former US President Bill Clinton. 

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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