The scandal of Roma schoolchildren

This morning I was a proud parent as my youngest trotted off for her first day of school. In reception she will be surrounded by kids of different nationalities, cultures and religions.

Here there is no question of marginalising one section of society. Everyone deserves the best education we can give them.

So with that thought ringing in my ears, it makes me fume when I read about how Roma schoolchildren are treated in Slovakia.

Today in Bratislava, Amnesty launched a new report on the issue Unfulfilled promises: Failing to end segregation of Roma pupils in Slovakia.

The report highlights how a massive 43% of Roma schoolchildren are taught in segregated and second-rate schools in Slovakia.

It is nothing short of a scandal.

The practice breaches international human rights law and European Union anti-discrimination legislation.

The European Commission has the power to hold states to account if they fail to follow Europe-wide legislation. And they have done so when it comes to issues such as environment, taxation and transport.

But the fact that the European Commission fails to clamp down on the anomaly when it comes to how Roma schoolchildren are educated hints at a far deeper problem.

Slovakia has been able to get away with the practice because no one in the European Commission seems to care. That cannot be allowed to continue. And I hope today’s report causes a few people in the higher echelons of the Commission to finally take some responsibility and to make the necessary steps that will eventually allow the Roma kids of Slovakia to get the education they deserve.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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