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ODIHR expert team examines education for Roma children in Czech Republic

(This article expired 29.05.2013.)

A team of experts from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) visited the Czech Republic from 21 to 25 May 2012 to assess educational opportunities for Roma children in the country.

Advisers on Roma and Sinti issues from ODIHR, representatives of the Irish OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, as well as legal and academic experts on education and Roma issues travelled to six cities to examine good practices and challenges in providing education for Roma children.

"The concern is that Roma children might not have access to a proper education if they are segregated within the system or sidelined into special-education streams," said Andrzej Mirga, the ODIHR Special Adviser on Roma and Sinti Issues. "Ensuring that these practices are not in place and promoting inclusive approaches to education are vital to aiding the integration of Roma communities not only in the Czech Republic, but in the OSCE area in general."

The nine-person team visited Ostrava, Brno, Rumburk, Šluknov, Ústí nad Labem and Prague to meet with representatives of the national and local governments, and education and law enforcement officials. The team also visited nine schools with significant numbers of Roma students to speak with educators working in this area.

The visit followed an invitation from the Czech government to study the issue, and is in line with ODIHR's mandate to assist participating States in meeting their OSCE commitments, which include ensuring better access to education for Roma children. The findings from the visit will be shared with the Czech authorities and published along with recommendations in a field assessment visit report.

(OSCE/Thomas Rymer)

A teacher's assitant works with Roma children at the Trmice Elementary School in Ústí nad Laben, Czech Republic, 24 March 2012. (OSCE/Thomas Rymer)