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Parliamentary Ombudsman for Minority Rights declares Hungarian education system discriminatory

7 December 1999

On September 6, 1999, the Hungarian Minister of Education, Mr Zoltán Pokorni, stated in a press conference held jointly with Mr Jeno Kaltenbach, the Parliamentary Ombudsman for Ethnic and Minority Rights, that segregation exists in the Hungarian education system. The admission came on the heels of the recent report by the Ombudsman's office which found that the large percentage of Romani students in special schools is not a result of their weaker mental abilities, but a sign of prejudice and the failure of the public education system. The report concluded that the system of so-called "special schools" — schools for mentally disabled children — serves the purpose of excluding socially disadvantaged children from normal public education. A survey by the Ombudsman's office of Borsod County in northeastern Hungary conducted in late 1998 discovered that 90% of children in special schools are Roma. The Ombudsman proposed a review of the legal regulations which provide for the education of mentally disabled children. Minister Pokorni accepted the Ombudsman's recommendations, and announced that a National Board for Public Education, Evaluation and Exam Administration will monitor the professional standards of special education. As this issue of Roma Rights went to press, this board did not yet exist.

Meanwhile, rights activists in Hungary were dismayed to learn that on August 20, 1999, the Ministry of Education had presented an award to Mr Miklós Filep, the director of the János Földi primary school in Hajdúhadház, eastern Hungary, for outstanding work in the field of education. The school achieved national prominence in September 1998 when a teacher attacked Romani pupils with a knife. Several investigations of the János Földi primary school by the office of the Ombudsman for Minority Rights have shown that Romani children are separated from non-Romani children and receive a lower level of education. The ERRC sent an open letter to the Minister of Education asking for an explanation as to why Mr Filep had been presented with the award and to protest the separation of Romani and non-Romani children at the school. As of November 29, 1999, the ERRC letter remains unanswered.

(Roma Press Center, ERRC)

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ERRC submission to UN HRC on Hungary (February 2018)

14 February 2018

Written Comments of the European Roma Rights Centre concerning Hungary to the UN Human Rights Committee for consideration at its 122nd session (12 Narch - 6 April 2018).

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The Fragility of Professional Competence: A Preliminary Account of Child Protection Practice with Romani and Traveller Children in England

24 January 2018

Romani and Traveller children in England are much more likely to be taken into state care than the majority population, and the numbers are rising. Between 2009 and 2016 the number of Irish Travellers in care has risen by 400% and the number of Romani children has risen 933%. The increases are not consistent with national trends, and when compared to population data, suggest that Romani and Traveller children living in the UK could be 3 times more likely be taken into public care than any other child. 

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Families Divided: Romani and Egyptian Children in Albanian Institutions

21 November 2017

There’s a high percentage of Romani and Egyptian children in children’s homes in Albania – a disproportionate number. These children are often put into institutions because of poverty, and then find it impossible ever to return to their families. Because of centuries of discrimination Roma and Egyptians in Albania are less likely to live in adequate housing, less likely to be employed and more likely to feel the effects of extreme poverty.

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