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Report: Czech Roma kids still face discrimination in education

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Prague, Aug 30 (CTK) – Cases of discrimination against Roma schoolchildren still occur in the Czech Republic even after the launch of an inclusion in education project, a human rights report says, adding that Roma kids are no longer placed in special schools but taught in separate Roma classes or schools.

The cabinet is to discuss the annual report on the state of human rights for 2016 at its meeting on Monday.

The report also mentions violence against children, an excessive number of children living in children’s homes and the insufficient regard the society pays to children’s opinion.

Furthermore, it points at a persisting gap between the pay of men and women and the unequal access to housing by members of minorities.

“With the inclusion [programme] underway, the problem of the exclusion of [Roma] children from joint education is starting to take on a new form. They are no longer labelled disabled or handicapped and placed in special schools [for slow learners], but they are being separated in space, for example,” the report writes.

As a result, fully or largely Roma schools or classes have been formed, which are viewed as “inferior and of a lower quality,” the report writes.

Nevertheless, sometimes it is even the Roma parents themselves who demand that their offspring be separated [from the majority population children] at school, the report says.

Citing the Czech ombudsman, it refers to several cases of exclusion of Roma schoolchildren in 2016.

In one of them, a first grade class of Roma children was established at an elementary school because the children allegedly were less mature and worse prepared for school attendance [than their peers].

“If almost all Roma children were placed in a class with a lower quality of lessons based on this criterion, in spite of its neutral character, this is indirect discrimination,” the report says.

The ombudsman reportedly recommended that the Roma children be evenly placed among the school’s other first grade classes and that supportive measures and additive lessons be provided for them.

In another case, a mainstream school refused to accept a disabled child, citing its full capacity and negative reactions of other students’ parents, but a court confirmed that such a refusal was discriminatory.

Kindergartens’ refusals to accept Roma kids are unacceptable either, the ombudsman said, cited by the report.

Referring to widespread violence against children, the report says children are the victims of 30 percent of crimes.

Children became target of 9,551 crimes last year.

The Justice Ministry registered 111 cases of rape and 322 cases of sexual abuse of children.

Social workers dealt with the cases of 2,393 maltreated, neglected and abused children.

Physical punishment is banned at schools and other institutions, but at home they are still considered acceptable and tolerated by neighbours, the report says.

It highlights people’s continuing uneven access to housing over their race or ethnicity.

Some real estate agencies refuse to let flats to Roma people, giving the flat owners’ wish as an argument.

Cases of companies restricting the employment of pensioners in favour of admitting other employees have appeared, the report says.

It says the earnings of women in the Czech Republic are 22 percent lower than men’s on average.

The report assesses the observance of civil and political rights, the right to judicial protection and the protection of health, and also people’s social security, the treatment of convicts and the position of foreigners in the Czech Republic.

“In 2016, there were some positive developments in the human rights area. At the same time, however, some long-lasting unsettled problems persist and new problems emerge,” the authors write.

Certain restrictions of rights ensue from the bills aimed against terrorism and cyber crime, which touch on people’s privacy, the report writes.

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