Romani Pupils Segregated in Roma-Only Class in Macedonia

13 November 2006

Five Romani pupils have been attending segregated classes in the Goce Delchev elementary school in Gostivar, Macedonia, according to the Macedonian national newspaper Vreme of 26 April 2006. Vreme quoted Mr Reis Jonuzi, the pupils' teacher, as having stated that the classes were formed because the ethnic Macedonian and Albanian teachers in other classes will not accept the children in their classes. When classes started in September, the class reportedly had 15 children. However, the 10 ethnic Macedonian children in the class were quickly transferred to other classes.

According to Vreme, Mr Jonuzi believes that if the school was not discriminating against the Romani pupils, they would also have been transferred to other classes shortly after the school year began. The article stated that the same situation occurred during the 2004/2005 school year.

Vreme quoted School Director Mr Zoran Ruseki who denied that discrimination was a factor in the formation of the class. Instead, Mr Ruseki claimed that the council of teachers did not want to see Mr Jonuzi out of a job when the class was dissolved completely and pointed to the legal possibility to form such small classes with the agreement of the children's parents, which, according to Mr Ruseki, the school obtained. Mr Jonuzi stated that the parents never complained because they understood the school director supported the idea.

On April 27, Vreme quoted Ministry of Education Representative Mr Kiril Ricteski, who stated that five-pupil classes may only be formed with the consent of the Ministry of Education, not the parents. Mr Ricteski also stated that cases of alleged discrimination in education should be reported to the Ministry's Municipal Educational Inspection Unit. On 26 July 2006, the Macedonia Public Prosecutor announced it would not pursue charges against members of Alpha. The Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights also announced it would help Mr Bekirov's parents file a private complaint in the case.



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