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Hungarian PM announces "national consultation" about whether to compensate Romani families whose children were educated in segregated settings

23.2.2020 11:41
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (PHOTO: European People's Party - EPP, Flickr.com)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (PHOTO: European People's Party - EPP, Flickr.com)

Czech news server aktualne.cz reports that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (Fidesz) has announced a "national consultation" about whether Romani families whose children spent their entire school attendance in segregated schools should be compensated as per court order. The news server reports that the Hungarian Government wants to ask the "Hungarian people" whether it should comply with a domestic court decision to compensate a group of 60 Romani children from Gyöngyöspata who were educated in a segregated setting, away from their non-Romani peers, for the duration of their compulsory school attendance.

During March, all households in Hungary with postal addresses will be asked for their opinion on what is being called a "national consultation questionnaire" about the situation in Gyöngyöspata. András Ujlaky, director of the Chance for Children Foundation in Hungary, is quoted as saying of the Romani children that they had to use separate lavatories from their non-Romani schoolmates and were not allowed to use the swimming pool.

Describing the situation in the schools between 2004 and 2017, Ujlaky is quoted as saying the children "were provided absolutely no classes in computer science or foreign languages." According to the court decision, a total of 60 families must be compensated for the unfair approach taken toward their children.

The damages awarded are the equivalent of approximately EUR 290 000. For each semester that each child was educated in a segregated setting, both the high court and the appellate court awarded approximately EUR 1 500.

The PM, however, rejects that outcome. The case is currently being reviewed by the Constitutional Court in Hungary.

Gyöngyöspata became the center of media attention in 2011 when right-wing extremist "order patrols" walked through the town and bullied local Roma. "Journalists began to take an interest in the fact that the cars belonging to the members of those units were parked in the schoolyard," Ujlaky told aktualne.cz.

Later the Romani parents of children attending that school began to describe to journalists how their children were being assigned to "special" classes on the ground floor where they were taught by educators who were less qualified than those employed to teach non-Romani children. Although segregation in education is meant to be an inadmissible situation in Hungary, human rights activists report that it is common in many schools there.

According to data from the European Commission (EC), in 2015 roughly 45 % of all Romani pupils attended segregated education. On the basis of that fact, the EC has opened an infringement proceedings against Hungary.

Since Orbán became PM in 2010, the management of many schools in Hungary has been removed from the hands of local authorities and placed under control of the central Government in Budapest, according to Attili Mráz of the Edmond. J Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University in the USA. Because of that, the Government bears direct responsibility for the segregated arrangements.

th, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Děti, Diskriminace, Hungary, Roma



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