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State expects new data on Roma to boost integration

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Prague, April 8 (CTK) – The Czech cabinet and other authorities are to gain the first overall data on Czech Romanies concerning their education, employment, housing and access to health care and social services this year, which is to help the state better target its measures aimed to improve the minority’s situation.

The data will be available based on new assessment methods the Government Council for the Romany Community has presented on its website.

Various events in Prague and other towns mark the International Romany Day today.

Experts say like in other areas, it is impossible to take targeted and effective measures in aid of the Romany minority without data describing its way of living.

The Czech Republic has not had any overall data on the situation of Romanies so far, since no institutions or registries have put down clients’ ethnicity.

According to the latest annual report on the Romany minority, about 226,300 Romanies lived in the 10.5-million Czech Republic in 2015, half of them in socially excluded houses or localities known as “ghettoes”.

In the Usti Region, north Bohemia, and in the Moravia-Silesia Region, even two thirds of local Romanies ended on the margin of society.

The number of ghettoes has doubled from 300 to 600 between 2005 and 2015, the report said.

The state authorities have long failed to gather the necessary data on Romanies.

Ten years ago, human rights minister Dzamila Stehlikova tried to gather some but her effort met with a resistance from Romany activists asserting that “a Romany census” would harm the minority.

Efforts to map the ghettoes in the country and find out the share of Romany children among students of “special” or “practical” classes for slow learners also met with resistance in the past.

The planned new gathering of data does not involve any across-the board counting of Romanies either. All data the state will gain will be qualified estimates by experts and they will serve as a basis for future comparisons.

For example, an estimated share of Romanies among pre-school children and students of secondary schools and universities will be available, as will the estimated number of Romanies who finished retraining courses or gained a subsidised work position.

The data are also to monitor the number of Romanies who succeed in gaining a standard house or flat instead of inhabiting infamous dormitories for low-income people.

Data about the offer of social services, access to heath care and the search for step families will also be presented.

All data will be provided by Romany coordinators, schools, employment offices and social workers. Many of the data are to be available in May.

The situation of Czech Romanies is to be assessed based on the Romany integration strategy, a plan the government approved in 2015 with the aim to change negative trends in the development of the situation of a part of Czech Romanies.

The fulfilment of individual steps within the strategy is also necessary for the sake of the Czech drawing of money from the EU funds. The country may get billions of crowns from the EU for fighting the ghetto phenomenon.

About 70 towns are to cooperate with the Government Agency for Social Inclusion within the Romany integration project.

($1=24.999 crowns)

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