[Czech Republic] Magdalena Karvayová on estimating the distribution of Roma in the schools: Data are important to desegregation

06 Oct 2019

The Seznam Zprávy online magazine reports that the statistics about the nursery, primary and secondary schools in the Czech Republic have to be registered, including qualified estimates of Romani pupils. Data are needed for documents about integration in the Czech Education Ministry and also because of a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights about enrollment into special schools.

Since the estimate of the number of Romani pupils and also their recognition is not always possible, the Pedagogical Chamber recommended to the principals to complete the records with zeroes. A definition of a Romani person has been issued in 2006, which is to help to make qualified estimates.

The Education Ministry needs to know this data about Romani pupils and their distribution. These statistics would fulfil the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights, and support the claim that Romani pupils are segregated from the others. Czech Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová states that Romani children are educated 12 times more frequently in programs for pupils with a mild mental disability than non-Romani pupils are.

Although the collection of data is considered racist by many Romani people, the purpose it serves is important, for desegregation measures to be designed. It can prove that Romani children are being relegated to the 'special schools' based on their ethnicity. Without such data, the administration can not have a realistic picture of the situation. In this way, correcting negative phenomena is only based on estimates or impressions, and it is less effective than solutions based on real data.

According to Čeněk Růžička, chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust in the Czech Republic, it is necessary to have data in order to help the Roma community. He claims that there is obviously a problem, so the collection of data is needed. Petr Torák, a Romani emigré from the Czech Republic, who worked as a police officer in Great Britain states, that collecting data is an ordinary phenomenon there. Police have to register everyone’s ethnicity, and if somebody does not want to state her or his ethnicity the officer has the option of listing the ethnicity that seems likely.

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