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Slovakia's only Romany high school abolished by regional assembly

Bratislava, 11.4.2008 11:04, (ROMEA/CTK)

The assembly of the Banska Bystrica self-governing region, central Slovakia, today approved the closing down of the high school for low-income students, seated in Lucenec, which is actually the country's only high school for Romanies, also including dormitories for students coming from other regions.

The school was established four years ago as a pilot project aimed to enhance the Romany community. Now its operation is to end due to the alleged lack of money and shortcomings in local teaching methods.

"The school has only few pupils, therefore it receives little money," Banska Bystrica regional governor Milan Murgas said on TA3 television, adding that extra subsidies would mean discrimination against other schools.

The project has been a mistake from the very beginning as it segregates Romanies from the rest of the population, Murgas said.

The school's former director Peter Gabor called its planned closure scandalous and threatened to complain about it in Brussels.

The Romany high school's operation was financed from the European Social Fund for the first three years.

The regional assembly today decided that the governor will ask the Education Ministry to abolish the school in June. Until then, the region will negotiate with the government on the possible preservation of the school under certain conditions. If the negotiations were successful, the assembly would revoke their decision.

The planned closure of the school was previously criticised by Deputy Prime Minister Dusan Caplovic, who allotted the budget of 6 million crowns to it last year.

The AFP agency has written that the school is to be closed down paradoxically now that the Slovak government asserts it wants better education of Romanies to become its priority.

According to the Amnesty International, only 3 percent of Slovak Romanies have high school education and only 0.3 percent are university graduates.

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