Romani Children Face Problems in Accessing Quality Education in Ukraine
On 1 August 2008, the ERRC addressed the Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science, Mr Ivan Vakarchiuk, to express deep concern regarding the denial of equal access to quality education for Romani children in Ukraine.
During research missions in Ukraine since 2006, a variety of forms of racial segregation of Roma in education have been identified. They can be described as: (a) separate classes for Roma in a separate school building; (b) geographically segregated schools in predominantly Romani neighbourhoods; (c) schools where Roma predominate or where they are only students; (d) classes for children with mental disabilities where Roma are overrepresented; and (e) schools at risk of becoming segregated when non-Romani parents decide to take their children to other schools allegedly due to the health problems of Romani children who live in very poor conditions.
Most Romani children either graduate illiterate or leave school at an early stage. In addition, most of the predominantly Roma schools are in poor physical condition with no cafeteria or dining hall, no sport facilities, with no indoor toilets or running water, with minimal furniture in various stages of disrepair and lacking the facilities necessary to educate students adequately, such as computers and laboratories. Even the most basic equipment is inadequate or altogether lacking.
The ERRC urged Minister Vakarchiuk to use the full powers of his office to ensure equal access to quality education for Roma before the academic year 2008/2009 begins and requested that:
- Steps are taken to ensure that all children attend an integrated school with adequate facilities and appropriate resources;
- A free pre-school programme for Romani children is designed and implemented;
- Preparatory courses and other support for students are offered for taking the exam allowing them to transfer to mainstream schools;
- Steps are taken to provide all Roma children with necessary identification and necessary medical documents;
- Policies are designed and implemented to enable all children to study in schools that meet their needs, reflect their identity and prepare them for participation in the wider society;
- A comprehensive nationwide desegregation programme is adopted; and
- That data about the number of Romani children in segregated facilities, types of segregated facilities, and their location is made public.
The full text of the letter is available here.