Wednesday, August 24, 2011




24 August 2011
Prague, Aug 23 (CTK) - Czech university students of Romany ethnicity met experts from the Together to School NGO in the American Centre in Prague yesterday to discuss problems and obstacles they face as students and also changes in the school system.

This was the first meeting of this kind ever held in the Czech Republic.

The participants want to formulate the meeting's conclusions in an appeal to be addressed to Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) and Education Minister Josef Dobes (Public Affairs, VV), Anna Pechova, from Together to School, told reporters.

She would not elaborate on the planned appeal.

Renata Berkyova a student of Romany studies, who participated in the meeting yesterday, said Romany students choose mainly social and humanity branches and those focusing on social work from among university programmes.

Only very few of them choose natural sciences, technical branches or chemistry, she said.
Tomas Scuka, a Police Academy student, said study environment is the most important for Romany students.

Branches such as Romany studies mean a "safe environment" while other branches raise Romany students' fears of factors such as discrimination and other people's reactions, Scuka said.

Berkyova said Romanies also prefer study branches focused on social affairs within their efforts to help their community.

She said she has never been a target of discrimination as a Romany studies student.

At the elementary and secondary schools they approached me as an exotic creature, but at the university I'm an object the others have an opportunity to research," she said.

She said some 12 to 15 people study the branch at Prague's Charles University in each of the four grades. About a third of them are Romanies.

Statistics do not monitor the number of Romanies studying at universities.

It is estimated that some 2 percent of Czech Romanies are university graduates, which is several times less than in the majority population.

The organisers of yesterday's meeting said the problem rests mainly in the education of Romany kids at their pre-school age, and in the fact that a number of Romany first graders end up unjustifiedly in special schools for children with learning difficulties.

"It is impossible to advance to a university from a special school," said another participant, Daniel Stano.

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