NGOs Visit the Czech Republic to Share and Discuss Successful Practices on Roma Children Education and Desegregation
On June 2-4 2014, the “Desegregation and Action for Roma in Education” (DARE) Network (DARE-Net) gathered for its last exchange visit in Ostrava, Czech Republic to learn about the inclusion of Roma children in Czech's educational system. During the previous meetings, the DARE-Net partners visited education projects for Roma children being implemented in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Romania.
The exchange visit was organised by “Vzájemné soužití o.p.s. (Life together)”, a nonprofit organisation focused on Roma people in need established in 1998. Life together is a Czech-Roma organisation with 45 employees, about half Roma from marginalised background and half Czechs. The organization helps people in need, improves relations between the Roma community and mainstream society, the institutions of The Czech state and the regional government, and empowers Roma population.
On June 2, the DARE-Net partners visited the Centre for Roma children and youths Liščina, the unit of Life together, where they provide children and youths from socially disadvantaged background with educational and leisure activities. The partners also learned about the successful and sustainable pilot project implemented by Vzájemné soužití o.p.s. (Life together), focused on inclusive education - increasing the number of Roma children in mainstream education and also on empowerment of Roma parents when fighting for quality education of their children. This project is funded by OSF (Open society foundation), FOSI (Foundation open society institute, Swiss charitable foundation within OSF), and RIO (Roma initiative office, also within OSF).
On June 3, the partners met with the deputy director of the Moravian-Silesian Czech School Inspectorate (CSI) PhDr Hana Slaná. CSI is the administrative authority established by Education Act, subordinated to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MŠMT). The Chief School Inspector is appointed by the Minister of MŠMT. Partners have learned how CSI provides evaluation of the education system in the CR in the field of education and educational services provided by schools and educational institutions enrolled in the school register, carrying inspection activities and methods of evaluation of the education system regardless of the founder. The subsequent discussion was about the situation after the DH court decision in 2007, about ongoing excessive number of Roma children attending special schools, not corresponding to the estimated percentage of Roma population in Czech Republic, about problematic system in which Roma children falls authomatically within the category of socially disadvantaged pupils, reduced curricula at practical schools and culturally biased tests for assessment of Roma children. In the afternoon the partners met with the director of Vzájemné soužití o.p.s., Mgr. Sri Kumar Vishwanathan, who talked about the importance and milestone - beginning of the fight of 18 Roma children for equal education and later became the applicants in the DH case.
On June 4 the partners visited Primary school Ostrava – Radvanice, where they met the principle of the school, Mgr. Hana Ostranska. The school with ordinary educational programme for primary schools with approximately 300 pupils is attended by an estimated 20% of Roma pupils, who have equally same chances to go on with studies when they complete the primary education as any other pupils. The schools does not segregate Roma children into classes, integrate them into common classes together with children with health disadvantages, with the help of 1 health and 1 social assistant. Yet, the school keeps the record of pupils and secondary/vocational schools where the pupils go after completion this school and offer a variety of after-school activities where every child can develop some kind of talent and ability. In the afternoon the partners met Mgr. Petr Polák, the lawyer and the leader of the department of equal treatment from Ombudsman office (The Public Defender of Rights), who spoke about the competences of his office, about the system of education, the steps that have been taken after the DH case decision (a survey in 67 previously special schools, monitoring of the – insufficient – progress when implementing the court decision, current issue in one of the primary schools in Ostrava during and after the enrollment process of Roma children into 1st class).
The exchange visit in The Czech Republic provided an enhanced understanding of the initiatives and various organizations, schools and individuals to address the integration of Roma school children in Ostrava and was attended by Integro Association (Bulgaria), Life together Association (Czech Republic), ANTIGONE (Greece), European Roma Rights Centre (Hungary), Chance for Children Foundation (Hungary), Romani CRISS (Romania).
The DARE-Net project succeeded to create a trans-national network of Roma and non-Roma civil society and academic organisations to analyse practices and initiatives relating to Roma education and school desegregation of Roma children in Romania, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
More information are available on the project website: http://www.dare-net.eu/index
The DARE-Net project is financially supported by Lifelong Learning Programme – European Commission
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.