Thursday, 24 April 2014

Roma protest against discrimination of kids

8 November 2012

Ostrava, North Moravia, Nov 7 (CTK) - About 150 Roma marched through north Moravian centre Ostrava Wednesday in protest of the discrimination against Romani kids at schools all over the Czech Republic.

They gathered outside the city hall to unfold banners, sing Romani songs and light candles as a symbolical funeral of the bad school system.

Then they set out for the School Inspection headquarters where they laid crosses, flowers and burning candles.

"We've gathered on the fifth anniversary of the verdict issued by the European Court of Human Rights, which said the segregation of Romani children and their sending to special schools [for kids with learning difficulties] is unlawful," Jolana Smarhovycova, the protest's organiser, told CTK.

Nothing has changed since the verdict, she said.

"Some legislative changes have been made, but the approach to Romani kids remains unchanged. Classes of Romani and non-Romani children are being established. If a child is hyperactive, it is treated as handicapped. The school sends children for examination to a psychology centre it chooses by itself, the parents have no other choice," Smarhovycova said.

"There are slower children who may succeed if they were given remedial classes, but still they are sent to special schools," she added.

She said next week Ostrava will host a conference of NGOs, teachers' assistants and school headteachers.

"We want to draft a list of advice and commitments to help schools prepare their teachers for treating Romani children appropriately," Smarhovycova said.

One of the participants in the march told CTK she dislikes the authorities' approach to hyperactive kids.

"They send them to a psychiatrist to give tranquilising pills to them, but we don't want our kids to live on pills," the woman said.

Another of the Romani women among the protesters, however, said she is satisfied with the situation. "It also depends on the approach taken by the parents. If you do not cooperate, no one wonders that if you do nothing for your child, the school does not meet your claims either," she told CTK.

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