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AI protests against discrimination of Roma at Czech schools

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Prague, Aug 31 (CTK) – The Amnesty International (AI) group handed a petition against alleged discrimination against Romanies at Czech schools, signed by over 38,000 people from 94 countries, to Czech Deputy Education Minister Jaroslav Fidrmuc yesterday.
The petition campaign started in April with a report on cases of Romanies who were discriminated against within the Czech education system.
This campaign ended outside the seat of the Education Ministry yesterday. AI placed information panels presenting stories of Czech Romany children in the street.
The AI report said a disproportionately high number of Romany students attended practical elementary schools for children with moderate intellectual disabilities. It wrote that segregated Romany schools were created and that bullying of Romanies occurred at quality schools.
Former education minister Marcel Chladek sharply criticised the AI report. He said it was not based on correct data.
The European Commission has been calling on the Czech Republic for a long time to place Romany children in practical elementary schools only if it is really needed.
AI yesterday criticised the centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka. It said the government failed to protect Romany children against discrimination, admit how widespread the discrimination at school was, and produce a good plan for fighting it.
“The government should declare that this discrimination exists and start dealing with it as a priority,” AI Czech branch head Mark Martin.
Fidrmuc assured the participants in the AI protest event that they and the ministry had the same goal. He said great improvement can be seen in work with students who need special assistance, Romany or not, in the last few years.
Education Minister Katerina Valachova did not attend the protest event because a cabinet meeting was held yesterday.

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