Challenging Segregated Education of Roma in Ukraine
ERRC documentation conducted in partnership with Ukrainian Romani organisations in the summer and autumn of 2006 revealed the widespread racial segregation of Romani pupils in schools in Ukraine.
According to research conducted by the ERRC and the Romani organisation Romani Zbora in August 2006, a 10-year-old Romani boy was denied enrolment to School No. 1 in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa. On 29 August, Mr C.R., a Romani man, asked Mr M.O., Director of School No. 1, to enrol his son M. for classes beginning in September 2006 as the family was moving to that area. According to Mr C.R., Mr M.O. refused to accept M.'s application for enrolment, reportedly because "No space was available". Mr C.R., however, stated that he believed the school director refused to enrol his son because of his Romani ethnicity. On behalf of Mr C.R., on 29 September the ERRC and a local lawyer filed an administrative complaint with the District Court against the Director's decision. As of the date this edition went to press, the complaint was still pending before the court.
Also in the Odessa Oblast, Romani children in the village of Nerubaisk are forced to study in segregated classes in a separate building at the local school according to documentation by the ERRC and Romani Zbora. Non-Romani pupils at the same school study in the main building. ERRC/Romani Zbora documentation indicates that Romani students receive inferior quality education compared non-Romani pupils at the school and facilities available to Romani pupils are in an advanced state of dilapidation. The school also does not provide transportation to and from the school for Romani students.
On 2 December, Romani Zbora wrote a letter to the Ministry of Education on behalf of Romani parents whose children attended the segregated school. The letter urged the Ministry of Education to intervene to ensure access of the Romani children to quality education. As of the date this edition went to press, the Ministry of Education had not responded the letter, neither had it sought contacts with Romani Zbora or the parents of the Romani children.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, research conducted by the ERRC and Chachipe revealed the existence of three segregated Romani schools in Uzhgorod, in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine. At elementary school No. 13, 250 out of 257 (97.3 percent) of the students enrolled are Romani; all 82 pupils of elementary school No. 14 are Romani; and 85 out of 88 pupils (96.6 percent) at the Sredneanskaja elementary school are Romani. In these segregated schools, Romani students receive education of an inferior quality in comparison to that received by students attending other, non-segregated schools, according to ERRC/Chachipe research. These schools maintain extremely bad material facilities, the teachers are less qualified than those at non-segregated schools and the teachers are unprepared for work with bilingual children.
On 12 December, the ERRC and Chachipe submitted a letter to the Ministry of Education expressing concern about the segregated education of Romani pupils in Uzhgorod and about the fact that the Ministry of Education did not exercise its control functions over the fulfillment of obligations by these schools. As of the date this edition went to press, the Ministry of Education had not responded the letter of concern.
Finally, on 23 August, Mr Lobanov, the director of School No. 14 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk refused to enrol the 10-year-old child of Ms N.T., a Romani woman, for the school term beginning in September, according to research conducted by the ERRC, Romani Yag and the Romani organisation Miriklea. According to Ms N.T.'s testimony, Mr Lobanov refused to accept her child's application after enquiring about her ethnicity because there was reportedly no space left in the school and because the child's residence was not registered in the relevant region. At the same time, Ms N.V. and an ERRC representative who were waiting outside overheard the exchange between Ms N.T. and the Director. The Director was reportedly very loud and rude to Ms N.T. As the women were discussing this, the school's secretary, who was sitting nearby, stated "The director has no right to refuse to enrol the Romani child, but he is trying not to accept Romani children in this school because they study badly, do not attend the school regularly, and someone has to be responsible for them."
On 16 October, the ERRC and a local lawyer filed an administrative complaint against the school Director on behalf of Miriklea with the Donetsk District Court for allegedly refusing to enrol a Romani child on discriminatory grounds and denying his right to apply for enrolment in the school.
Further information on the situation of Roma in Ukraine can be found in the recent ERRC publication, "Proceedings Discontinued: The Inertia of Roma Rights Change in Ukraine", available on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=2713.
(Chachipe, ERRC, Miriklea, Romani Zbora)