Segregation, bullying and fear: The stunted education of Romani children in Europe

08 Apr 2015
Amnesty International

Amsteny International reports that in countries across Europe - Greece, the Czech Republic, France, and Slovakia, to name but a few - Roma are too often treated as second-class citizens. Enduring systematic social exclusion, extremely poor living conditions, racially motivated attacks and forced evictions, Romani children rarely have a fighting chance of progressing in life. They are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and marginalization.

Discrimination against Romani children in education is multifaceted. Romani children are either disproportionately placed in schools designed for pupils with “mild mental disabilities” or relegated to Roma-only classes and schools. 

Conteiner school

On a recent visit to Slovakia, Amnesty International found the that the authorities are building schools in metal containers close to Romani settlements.The container schools are built from material resembling shipping containers and consist of a large one or two-storey building with flat roofs and inner space limited to corridors and classrooms. Costing 200,000 euros each, they are much cheaper than brick and mortar schools. Only Romani children attend classes in these container schools.

No place to call home

In some other European countries, such as France, municipal authorities refuse even to register many Romani children in school.

Bullying concerns

Romani children enrolled in mixed mainstream schools also face bullying and harassment.

Empty promises

So far, authorities in Greece, the Czech Republic, France, and Slovakia have failed to sufficiently act upon their limited promises for change. Despite a number of court rulings compelling governments to end the various forms of discrimination and ban the segregation of children into Roma-only schools or schools for pupils with “mild mental disabilities”, little has changed.

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