Slovak PM wants Romani children to attend boarding schools
Slovak PM Fico is proposing what he has himself termed "extreme measures" for Romani children, namely, that they be educated at boarding schools. Peter Pollak, the Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community, does not agree with this solution.
"You must remove the children from that environment and put them somewhere else," Fico said on Tuesday when speaking to a group of college students. He was discussing how to ensure a better future for children from the Romani community who live in conditions that are inappropriate.
Fico not only spoke of "special facilities", but also of the fact that even though such an approach might be appropriate, it would prompt protests abroad and among human rights activists, whom he termed "sanctimonious". He told the students that "we either tell everyone that the situation in Slovakia is extreme and that extreme measures must be adopted for extreme situations, or we will just keep gabbling away about it". He also said the international community must get involved in resolving the problem.
"When we see that a Romani family is incapable of providing the kind of education, the kind of quality upbringing, that guarantees their child a future, then someone else has to do it," Fico explained to the daily SME. While he has been discussing the idea of boarding schools for Romani people from inappropriate environments for several years now, neither his first administration nor his second one ever actually prepared such measures.
Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for the Romani Community Peter Pollak disagrees with the boarding school solution. "I do not advocate that type of education," Pollak said.
Together with Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, Pollak is currently designing reforms of the Government's Romani policy, but mandatory boarding schools are not part of those reforms. He considers a much better path to be intensive work with children starting at the age of three at nursery school and day-long childcare systems. When asked whether he would resign should boarding schools be proposed, he said he would "not be part of" of any measures he disagreed with.
Slovak Interior Minister Kaliňák agrees with Fico, although he considers boarding schools to be a good solution in many cases. "Boarding schools have only one problem - definite disagreement with them from abroad," he said. In the reforms he is designing, therefore, he has chosen the compromise model of day-long education, in which a child attends school from breakfast to supper and does homework with a tutor.
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