ERRC and IHF Urge Greek Education Minister to End Roma School Segregation
On 10 February 2006, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) sent a letter to Greek Minister of Education Marietta Yannakou, expressing concern about the placement of Romani pupils in segregated classes in Aspropyrgos on the outskirts of Athens, following an initial refusal of enrolment and highly inadequate responses by Greek authorities.
The letter noted a range of actions undertaken by various agencies – and in particular by IHF member Greek Helsinki Monitor – aiming to try to secure enrolment in equal quality, integrated classes for Romani children in the Psari settlement in Aspropyrgos. The letter observes that authorities have been aware of the exclusion of Roma from schooling and/or efforts at their segregation into separate, substandard schooling arrangements, since at least 2002. Efforts at securing integrated education for these children have not yet met with success, and indeed have provoked a backlash by local non-Romani parents. The letter noted that these issues are not confined solely to schools in Aspropyrgos, and cited examples of school segregation of Roma in other parts of Greece.
The letter urged Minister Yannakou to take all measures available to her office to remedy, without delay, the situation in the primary schools at issue in Aspropyrgos, and indeed throughout the country. The joint ERRC/IHF letter was copied to, among others, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as to the Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Greece to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The full text of the letter is available at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2230.