Romani Children Face Protesters at Pre-School Programme in Croatia

25 September 2012

Budapest, Zagreb, 25 September 2012: The European Roma Rights Centre sent a letter to Croatian authorities today after a group of Romani children were blocked from attending the first day of their pre-school programme because of a protest by non-Romani parents. The incident happened on 17 September 2012 at the primary school of Gornji Hrašćan. More than 50 children were stopped from entering their new preschool facility by approximately 40 adult protesters. The children have since been able to attend the programme, but tensions remain.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the segregation of Roma pupils in primary schools in Međimurje was discriminatory. The ruling obliged Croatia to take steps to prevent segregation from happening in the future. Previous protests by non-Romani parents in 2002/03 had encouraged the authorities to continue their practice of separating children in education, according to an ECRI report.

A report by the former Commissioner of Human Rights earlier this year found that Romani children are still sometimes educated in separate classes at mainstream schools in Croatia, and the progress on the successful completion of primary education remains unsatisfactory.

There have been some positive developments for Romani children in Croatia, however. A report released by ECRI today notes some positive developments notes that pre-school facilities are available to all Roma and the enrolment of Roma children at primary school has increased. Measures are being taken to put an end to separate Roma-only classes. This good work should be encouraged at the local level and authorities should take steps to ensure that progress continues.

Croatia assumed the Decade of Roma Inclusion Presidency in July this year. In this context it is particularly important that national and local authorities to act to ease tensions, and to focus on finding inclusive solutions in education.

For more information, contact:

Sinan Gokçen
ERRC Media and Communications Officer


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