A Lesson in Discrimination: Segregation of Romani Children in Primary Education

A Lesson in Discrimination: Segregation of Romani Children in Primary Education

Romani children are systemically denied their rights to education and non-discrimination in primary education in Slovakia. They are overwhelmingly segregated in Roma-only mainstream schools and classes, or special schools and classes for children with “mild mental disabilities”. As a result, they are condemned to low-quality, segregated education.

In April 2015, following continued criticism of the Slovak authorities’ inaction from national and international bodies, the European Commission initiated infringement proceedings against Slovakia for breaching the prohibition of discrimination in education set out in the EU Race Equality Directive. This report examines the Slovak government’s responses to the European Commission’s concerns, investigating Romani children’s access to primary education in Slovakia over a year and a half after the launch of the infringement proceedings.

This report reviews recent legislative changes intended to tackle the erroneous placement of Romani children in special schools and classes for children with “mild mental disabilities” and examines broader structural factors driving segregation and discrimination across the education system. Its findings are based primarily on case-studies of schools and educational options for children in four locations in the regions of Prešov and Košice in eastern Slovakia, which have some of the largest Romani populations in the country: Šarišské Michaľany/Ostrovany, Moldava nad Bodvou, Rokycany and Krompachy. The four qualitative case studies are indicative of widespread and systemic segregation and discrimination and, while the
responsibilities of individual schools and local authorities are highlighted, the report focuses on structural issues that fuel and perpetuate these human rights violations, and that the government of Slovakia are failing to address.

The full report is available in English and Slovak

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