This report documents how the the Czech authorities are violating the human rights of Romani children in schools across the country. Romani children in the Czech Republic have for decades suffered systemic discrimination in primary education. Many are placed in so-called practical schools designated for pupils with mild mental disabilities. Those in mainstream schools are often segregated in Roma-only schools and classes or otherwise treated differently. Reports of racial bullying and ostracisation by non-Roma pupils, and even open prejudice by some teachers, are frequent. Amnesty International calls on the Czech government to make an unequivocal commitment and start a reform that would address ethnic prejudice and discrimination head-on.
This report consists of three main chapters. The first chapter enumerates all the mechanisms contributing to the development of educational inequalities in the Czech Republic’s education system, which are summarised to provide a context for the focus of this report—the ECEC of Roma children. It highlights the lack of ECEC provision for children under the age of 3 years (in terms of insufficient professional support to young Roma children, including that provided in some circumstances by crèches), problems related to insufficient kindergarten capacity (available child places), and low participation of Roma children in ECEC programs overall. This chapter also deals with the transition from preschool settings to primary education, and the placement of Roma children into schools with reduced curricula. All this has to be understood in the context of a highly diversified education system that “sorts” children into different educational pathways early in life, starting as early as Grade 1 in primary school. Another problem discussed is the large proportion of postponed primary school enrolments. The first chapter is based on statistical data and data from the Czech Longitudinal Study of Education, which studied educational transition in compulsory education. These are complemented by available data from other available research surveys.
The second chapter analyses the level of inequalities in ECEC provision for Roma children. It is the main analytic chapter of the report and describes the participation of Roma children in kindergartens and how this impacts their successful enrolment into primary education. The analysis is based on: Czech data collected for the 2011 regional Roma survey organised by the UNDP, World Bank, and European Commission (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and UNDP 2012); research into the educational pathways of Roma pupils (Gabal Analysis and Consulting 2010); group interviews with Roma parents (Nová škola 2011); and regional situational analyses produced by the Office of the Czech Government Demographic Information Center (2011).
In comparison with their non-Roma peers, Roma children’s enrolment in preschool education is markedly less frequent. The key causal issues identified by the analysis include economic reasons, the different parental priorities of socially excluded families in comparison with other more affluent groups in society, and direct and indirect discriminatory barriers in preschool institutions. However, as stated above, it is well known that the beneficial influence of preschool education is more significant for marginalised and materially deprived Roma children than for their non-Roma counterparts.
The third chapter draws conclusions and lists a number of key recommendations, some with addenda.
Turkey’s Roma population and similar social groups such as Abdal, totalling between two million and five million, have long been one of the country’s most marginalised communities. From hate speech and the threat of targeted violence to extreme poverty and exclusion, they suffer discrimination in almost every area of their lives. This situation has been sustained not only by deep-rooted social prejudice, but also by the indifference and even complicity of authorities to address their second-class status in Turkey. Indeed, until relatively recently there was little official acknowledgement of the profound social and economic inequalities affecting them, let alone a concerted effort to improve their conditions.
The limited availability of studies or concrete data on targeted attacks, inadequate essential public services and other challenges have contributed to the continued invisibility of Roma and other similar groups in public life. This has been accompanied by a steady attrition of their ability to maintain their distinct culture and identity: for example, there has been a drastic decline in the number of people who can speak the traditional languages of the Roma community such as Romani, Lomavren, Domari and Abdoltili, and those languages and dialects are under threat of disappearing. This report, drawing on extensive fieldwork with Roma communities as well as desk-based research, seeks to raise awareness among policy makers, journalists and the general public by highlighting the particular barriers they continue to face in two key areas – housing and education. While Turkey is a signatory to all of the relevant international conventions guaranteeing all citizens equal access to housing and education – protections affirmed in its national legislation and constitutions – in practice legal shortcomings and implementation failures have meant that for many these rights remain out of reach.
Poverty and discrimination from some landlords has meant that the barriers to securing adequate housing are especially high for Roma, resulting in high rates of homelessness or their concentration in settlements with limited public services and insecure tenure. This has led to the persistence of so-called ‘Roma neighbourhoods’ that are largely segregated from surrounding areas and mainstream society. Besides being characterised by limited access to water, sanitation and other needs, these communities are especially vulnerable to forcible displacement to accommodate urban ‘regeneration’ and other projects: as a result, Roma may be forced to migrate repeatedly. These issues are especially acute for certain groups, such as women and refugees, who may be subject to multiple forms of discrimination. Their discrimination is further entrenched by their continued exclusion from education. Despite the right to education being guaranteed for all, in practice a range of social and economic hurdles, from physical isolation and financial constraints to the absence of accessible and culturally appropriate schooling, have left many Roma children isolated – a situation that perpetuates low attendance, poor attainment and the emergence in some areas of almost exclusively Roma schools that reinforce their segregation.
These issues are exacerbated by other forms of discrimination, such as harassment from staff and pupils, and curricula that ignore Roma in their materials. As a result, instead of effectively addressing the drivers of exclusion, Turkey’s education system is perpetuating inequalities by failing to provide Roma with accessible, affordable education. Importantly, there has been some progress in recent years, with the government coming up with a number of policies that officially recognise the challenges these communities experience. Despite the limitations and ambiguities of those policies, they have been embraced by the NGOs established by Roma and similar social groups. However, only time will tell if the current strategies will produce positive results. This report seeks to highlight the current rights gaps and support the development of more inclusive social policies.
In a unique collaboration with UNICEF, Minority Rights Group International reports on what minority and indigenous children around the world face in their struggle to learn. This report profiles the programmes that are being developed to help them – from better bilingual education to meeting the needs of nomadic populations – giving examples of what works and why. It describes efforts to overcome exclusion so that education is available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable for minorities and indigenous peoples, and shows how far there is still to go.
The second edition of the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) presents the latest evidence on global progress towards the education targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
With hundreds of millions of people still not going to school, and many not achieving minimum skills at school, it is clear education systems are off track to achieve global goals. The marginalised currently bear the most consequences but also stand to benefit the most if policy-makers pay sufficient attention to their needs. Faced with these challenges, along with tight budgets and increased emphasis on results-oriented value for money, countries are searching for solutions. Increased accountability often tops the list.
The 2017/8 GEM Report shows the entire array of approaches to accountability in education. It ranges from countries unused to the concept, where violations of the right to education go unchallenged, to countries where accountability has become an end in itself instead of a means to inclusive, equitable and high-quality education and lifelong learning for all.
The report emphasises that education is a shared responsibility. While governments have primary responsibility, all actors – schools, teachers, parents, students, international organizations, private sector providers, civil society and the media – have a role in improving education systems. The report emphasises the importance of transparency and availability of information but urges caution in how data are used. It makes the case for avoiding accountability systems with a disproportionate focus on narrowly defined results and punitive sanctions. In an era of multiple accountability tools, the report provides clear evidence on those that are working and those that are not.
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur reviews the role of equity and inclusion in strengthening the right to education, in particular in the context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Special Rapporteur concludes by calling for states to take significant, positive actions to tackle discrimination, inequity and exclusion in education to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are met.
According to UNESCO, 264 million children and youth are still out of school around the world, and this is only accounting for the primary (61 million) and secondary school (203 million) age population. In particular, the poorest and most marginalised, including ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, girls, and populations experiencing conflict, are often systematically unable to access and complete a full cycle of quality education. The first volume of NORRAG Special Issue (NSI) is dedicated to examining international frameworks and national policy as well as the challenges of fulfilling the right to education in practice.
The inaugural issue of NSI on the Right to Education Movements and Policies: Promises and Realities aims to highlight the global and national level experience and perspective on guaranteeing the right to education, as outlined in international frameworks, national constitutions, legislation, and policy, when creating the required administrative structures to ensure that the right is respected, protected, and fulfilled for all.
The Issue is divided into six parts, each focusing on a specific theme of right to education policy and practice. The first part includes an article written by RTE staff on The Role of Court Decisions in the Realisation of the Right to Education, which draws on RTE's background paper on accountability for the GEM Report 2017-8.
The 51-page report, “‘Without Education They Lose Their Future’: Denial of Education to Child Asylum Seekers on the Greek Islands,” found that fewer than 15 percent of more than 3,000 school-age asylum-seeking children on the islands were enrolled in public school at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, and that in government-run camps on the islands, only about 100 children, all preschoolers, had access to formal education. The asylum-seeking children on the islands are denied the educational opportunities they would have on the mainland. Most of those who were able to go to school had been allowed to leave the government-run camps for housing run by local authorities and volunteers.
In his report, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, provides a clear working definition of the concept of a minority in order to guide his activities and those of the United Nations. He describes a series of initiatives, including three regional forums that complement the Forum on Minority Issues. In the thematic section of his report, he sets out the often misunderstood language dimension of education for minorities, which emanates from the proper understanding and implementation of international human rights obligations. He describes the parameters of the application of human rights, and in particular the principles of equality without discrimination, as of primary importance for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education for all, including linguistic minorities such as users of sign languages.
China’s education policy in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is significantly reducing the access of ethnic Tibetans to education in their mother tongue. The government policy, though called “bilingual education,” is in practice leading to the gradual replacement of Tibetan by Chinese as the medium of instruction in primary schools throughout the region, except for classes studying Tibetan as a language. Since the 1960s, Chinese has been the language of instruction in nearly all middle and high schools in the TAR, where just under half of Tibetans in China live, but new educational practices introduced by the government in the TAR are now leading more primary schools and even kindergartens to use Chinese as the teaching language for Tibetan students.