Although less than three percent of the total Czech population are ethnic Roma, children from that minority group make about one-third of students at “practical schools” for kids with mental, psychical or learning disabilities, the office of Ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský said on Wednesday.
“[It] is quite obvious that Romani children are enrolled in special schools to an extent that far exceeds their representation in the population,” said the office, which conducted research at 67 randomly selected primary schools in all regions of the Czech Republic, and said the findings were evidence of continuing “indirect discrimination.”
In November 2007 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that discriminatory placement in “special schools” — since renamed “practical schools” — violated the right of Romani children to education. According to some studies, Romani children make up more than 80 percent of the student body at individual practical schools.
The Ombudsman’s office said the situation has not improved over the past few years since the ECHR ruling, and noted that with access to education a prerequisite to entering the labor market, “Continued segregation creates conditions for still deeper social and economic poverty for other generations of Roma.”