Romani Children Held Back

Amnesty International is petitioning the government of Slovakia to end racial segregation in schools and to allow Romani children access to proper schools.

Romani children are typically placed in either Roma-only schools or special schools designed for children with mental disabilities. According to Amnesty, there is a four year gap between the curriculum of special schools and mainstream schools, hindering children’s development. One school director illustrates the discrepancy:

“In the first grade of the mainstream elementary school pupils study the numbers from 0 to 100; in the [first grade of the] special elementary school they learn only from 0 to 5. When it comes to Slovak language, children in the mainstream school learn the whole alphabet in the first grade; at the special school they study the alphabet during grades 1 to 4.”

The government adopted the Schools Act which prohibits discrimination and segregation in schools. However the problem still persists. In 2006 a dismal 3 percent of Romani children reached secondary school, according to the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

The Roma make up approximately 10 percent of the country, but are overrepresented in poverty and segregated from mainstream society. Stereotyped as lazy thieves, they are often discriminated against when trying to obtain housing in Slovak towns, and often have no choice but to settle in rural areas where they live without sanitation systems, clean water, electricity or paved roads. The opportunity for Romani children to receive a proper education is crucial to help break the cycle of poverty.


Cherie Smith
Cherie Smith7 years ago

What is happenning is inhumane they should have the best care and the best of everything esp an education thay are acting against the law which should always be to aim for peace a wake up call and a shake up call it should be put right straightaway with apologies bring justice to this injustice now who ever has the power and authority change this and using the media positively who is allowing this to happen we are all responsible once we know the truth to make changes anyway we can even through prayer would like to see daily prayer all over the world and prayer walking to make the world a just and happy world not to tolerate injustices anymore and getting the best people in positions of authority for the good of the people and animals if they are not doing their job right get those that do

Monika S.
Monika S7 years ago

Yes, Suni, but if everyone who has got hurt takes their revenge, no one will survive in the end. People must learn to live with the others, and that's what not only Slovak, but also Romani, people must learn to do. I once was on bus with a Romani girl. I was looking at her b/c she had a beautiful hair. but she kept looking at me very angrily. Then the bus driver took a left turn and I stepped on her foot accidentally. It looked as if she would start yelling at me but I smiled and apologised to her, and all of a sudden she smiled as well and said: It's ok, nothing happened... It's all about communication, but I think it's easier on personal level than general level, country level. Not all Romani people live in poor conditions. There's at least 1 Romani family in my block of flats, they are dressed smartly, the children go to school etc. I think it isn't healthy to generalise as you can hurt many people who try to make things better, either living in Slovakia, or in the region. I know I sounded harsh in my reaction to Ms Carol H.'s comment but it does sound arrogant to say that there's no discrimination in the USA. It's not true and she shouldn't have used it as an argument. I'll try to word my reactions better next time.

Susan Suni Ibarra
Susan Ibarra7 years ago

If you think there is discrimination of (African) Americans and hispanic folks, you haven't seen enough. The Romani People have been severely trashed on, murdered, and totally rejected for hundreds of years. They still are forced to move around to avoid persecution. THIS GOES BACK TO BIBLICAL TIMES!! They have been so badly abused that they are very anti the rest of the world. They have never been shown friendship or kindness by almost everyone, though there are those who do help them to survive. They have been so badly abused by the world, that their anger at us all is VERY obvious. They get government help , they steal, and any other thing they can, first to survive on the move, and it is also a way to give "payback" to the world that ostracized them. Since Biblical times they have been very badly abused. I, personally, would rather reach out to help, rather than be critical at all of them, because they really DON'T deserve it. Yes, they get even with us - - - - - don't all people feel like revenge when they are badly hurt? 'Vengeance is mine, sayeth the LORD.' I know. But they are humans with many deep wounds, added to very fiery and soulful emotions. I cast no stones here!!!

Susan Suni Ibarra
Susan Ibarra7 years ago

Your comments are well worth taking in. Sounds like you've lived in that area. I was afraid that I was reading some minor discrimination in the first three or four sentences though. It wasn't, and I'm glad I read on. It was just the way you worded those first sentences. Instead f discrimination, I think I might have been hearing some anger, which is different. You have it under control. don't worry abut it. It was a good article. Suni

Monika S.
Monika S7 years ago

I think people who do not know much about Slovakia (most USA people don't even know where it is) shouldn't say that in USA, there isn't a discrimination b/c it's a lie, and not a fact, Ms Carol H. Whether it be a death penalty (that can cause death of innocent people), already abolished in Slovakia, or hate crimes etc. There are discrimination issues in every country, so pls don't post arrogant comments using 'that is a fact' expressions when you don't use real facts at all. I don't agree with discrimination but the thing is that Romani people's mentality is completely different from Slovak people. Many Romani people overload Slovak social benefit system and don't want to work at all, and most of them don't send their children to schools at all. It's their choice, not the government's. Slovak gvt can't make them send their children to schools, so the new generation has better prospects for life. There are Romani people who work, go to schools etc. but the rest is very hard to work with, talk to etc. b/c they like to keep their things among them. They even tend to sort out crimes among them, without the police getting involved. They DESERVE the same opportunities as others, yes, but not better ones, b/c that's already discrimination in reverse, and that's what happening sometimes in Slovakia, or in my country. This issue is much more complicated than you might know. Unfortunately.

Sally Abravanel
Past Member 7 years ago

We must demand an end to this discrimination and full integration (not assimilation) of the Roma into European society.

Sheri B.
Sheri B7 years ago

When mentioning organizations such as Amnesty International in the article, it would be great to put a link so that people can go to the site to learn more about the topic, or about Amnesty and take action, if it is possible.

Carol H.
Past Member 7 years ago

This is just not fair and that is a fact.

It is sad that this is still going on that would not happen in the USA and that is a fact. We try to help children that might have problems in learning not hold them back this so horrible I really don't have the words.

Uma Chernoff
Judith Shafer7 years ago

Roma are survivors and will triumph over all odds for a glorious future.

Marilyn Berger
Marilyn Berger7 years ago

watch the documentary The Gypsies of Svinia
heartbreaking to see the deplorable conditions they live in in slovakia