Czech Students Highlight Segregation in Education during Roma Week

Radio Prague published an article on November 13th about Czech students who wanted to draw attention to segregation in modern education in the Czech Republic. The group of Czech university students organised a series of events in the capital of the Czech Republic: Prague. These events mainly focused on the segregation of Roma children in Czech schools and the media image of the country’s Romani minority. Human rights group Amnesty International as well as the European Roma Rights Centre were also involved.

This week's events were not unique. Last year the students organised a similar event in order to draw attention to this problem. As Volynsky states:

the campaign follows up on a 2007 verdict by the European Court for Human Rights which ruled in favor of 18 Romani students from the northern city of Ostrava, confirming their families’ claim that they were unjustly placed into so-called special, or practical, schools for disabled children, and denied access to a regular education. The court also stated that this was a common practice in the Czech Republic that needed to be stopped. But five years on, human rights advocates are saying little progress has been made. (Volynsky)

Following one of my previous posts on linguistic equalities a quote from Adam Podhola is in place here

Don’t give into the stereotypes that you see in the media. It is about creating dialogue, it’s about understanding. I think one of the problems here is that we underestimate the Roma culture. It is just as important as Czech culture, and [their values] are just as important as the values that we have. And I think we should try to learn more about Roma culture, because it will help us deal with the problems in the future. (Volynsky)

Are you familiar with similar cases in your own surroundings? Do not hesitate to share your thoughts and experiences!

You can read the entire article on the website of Radio Prague.

Moreover, if you want more information concerning these events you can go to the following website: www.ipusa.cz.

 

References

  1. Masha Volynsky - Radio Prague, 'Students highlight segregation in education during Roma Week', http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/students-highlight-segregation-in-education-during-roma-week, consulted 16-11-2012.

Comments

  1. First of all, I think governments should try everything to provide every citizen (whether the person is from a different ethnicity, disabled or whatsoever!) in their country with equal education. If you deny children from a certain group to attend regular education, it will backfire in the long term. But the problem is not really unusual: Racial stereotyping is very common at the moment.

    For example, in Switzerland it's way more difficult to get a job or an apartment if your family name ends in -ic. People are simply afraid of the unknown and want nothing, but to keep the status quo as long as possible. Change simply looks so unconvenient and stressful. However, that's definitely no excuse.

    If you're looking for more information on this post's topic, you should also read this article:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/29/us-romania-roma-idUSBRE85S0PC20120629

  2. When it comes to education and especially jobs it is not always easy to pin down if it concerns racial discrimination. Here it is forbidden to discriminate on such terms. But it is just how you 'package' it I guess. Then they'll find an other excuse not to hire you, for example: too old, too young, not enough experience etc. It is all about prejudices against others. Although I have to add, prejudices do not suddenly arise. Usually, as many people argue, there is a core of truth in it. What are your thoughts on statements like that?

  3. I agree, there is always an excuse why someone shouldn’t be hired – for whatever reasons. Though we cannot do anything against it. If you are responsible for hiring, e.g., new workers, you always have certain criteria in mind and it does not quite matter whether they are relevant or not. Of course this might not even be on purpose.

    We are all having prejudices and that's nothing bad per se. These prejudices are based on our experiences and knowledge and thus "created" over a long time span. Though this mind construct can be harmful when these assumptions are not revised and questioned.

    At this point, we also should consider stereotyping. I’d argue that stereotypes makes life easier because we don’t need to analyse a person from scratch every time because we already have certain assumptions about him or her. Some of them are true and others are not. Though the next necessary step should be to learn more about the other person and at a certain point you might rewrite your assumptions/stereotypes (...in case they proved to be wrong). Hence, stereotyping is only problematic once you reduce a certain group to stereotypes without looking more closely, i.e. doing the second step.

    And what do you think about it?

  4. I followed a few courses on the formation of national identities, the role of stereotypes in this (and in literature). It is important to bear in mind that we do not only have stereotypical images of 'others', but also of ourselves. If you would interview people from several countries individually, it would turn out that most of them value their own culture (and the norms and values they feel belong to it) higher than 'someone else's culture'.

    Stereotypes usually have a basis which seems to be true overal. But another example complicates this matter. In Europe there is a common prejudice that the Northern countries are stronger financially and more trustworthy than Southern European countries like Italy. This is called 'the North-South division' But when we compare this to the national level, again Italy, we see this same stereotypical division at work: the North of the country is deemed to be stronger and more trustworthy than the South, especially Sicily.

    This makes me turn to the question: when do we determine what is positive and what is negative discrimination? How can we use stereotypes in a constructive way. Or should we always be aware of where our thoughts about certain people come from, and how should be do this?

    In sum, stereotypes can be used in many positive as well as negative manners. Then the segregation part of this story remains: everyone should have the right to enjoy education. In some countries this right was highly developed, but due to current developments studying will become a luxury good due to high tuition fees etc. How could this be solved? And does it create new segregation in many countries?

  5. Should we even make the distinction between positive and negative discrimination? I'd argue that both is unjust because it is also not fair (and also not legal) to "[treat] one person more favourably than another on the ground of that individual’s sex, race, age, marital status or sexual orientation" (http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=404799&sectioncode=26). On the other hand, "positive action" should be undertaken, e.g., encouraging minority groups to apply for a particular job.

    How can we provide for every child the best possible education? I'd say that this can be done through a strong state, which subsidises schools as well as universities and thus you have low tuition fees. Furthermore, low-income families should receive a grant from the state. Having this said, you should compare the fees in the US and in Europe - there's quite a gap.

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