Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Poll: Young Czech generation views Roma problem as most serious


Prague, June 4 (CTK) -
The Czech majority population's rising resentment against Romanies strongly affects the views of the young generation of secondary school students, who described coexistence with the Romany minority as the country's biggest problem in a recent poll, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes Monday.
In the poll, the People in Need NGO mapped the positions of secondary school students (aged from 15 to 19) on the country's present problems and history, their political preferences and willingness to join public life.

Compared to the previous similar poll from early 2009, the fresh poll showed a significant increase in the number of students who view Romanies as the most serious present problem, LN writes.
The Romany problem is closely followed by the domestic political representation, unemployment and corruption as other big problems in students' eyes, the paper says.

"The previously expected change in the ethnic climate, in young people's relation to Romanies, their rising openness, tolerance and peer solidarity have not come true," sociologist Ivan Gabal said about the poll results.

Elite grammar school students described coexistence with Romanies as difficult more often than apprentices and vocational school students, the daily continues.

Not always did the respondents speak based on their direct experience. A half of them said the main source of information about Romanies is the media, family and friends. Only the other half said their assessment of the Romany problem ensued from their direct experience, LN writes.

Their position does "not primarily stem from their contact with Romanies. They make up their mind based on indirect experience," said Martin Simacek, head of the government agency for Romany integration.

He said it is a mistake of schools, media and parents to assure young people that coexistence with Romanies is problematic.

"It is necessary for schools to change their way of teaching and to start preparing young people for the diversity of society and the existence of minorities, of handicapped people," Simacek is quoted as saying.

It is far earlier than at secondary schools that the unfortunate situation arises, however. The mistake is made at elementary schools in which children are selected, and some - mainly Romanies - are sent to "practical" schools for kids with learning difficulties, often unrightfully, Simacek points out.
If it were not for this and if all children grew up together , the secondary schools students would assess Romanies differently, Simacek adds.

The poll also mapped secondary school students' views on the country's communist past.
"The number of [students] relativising the situation before 1989 is rising. Their parents and grandparents often plan to support the Communists (KSCM) in elections, according to polls, which is an indicator of something," says Karel Strachota, from People In Need.

Asked what party they would support when taking part in elections for the first time, the students mostly said they do not know and that they mistrust the established traditional parties.

"This is not surprising. What embarrassed me, however, was the very good result of Tomas Vandas's [ultra-right extra-parliamentary] Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS)," political analyst Josef Mlejnek told CTK.

The poll showed that as many as 12 percent of secondary school students would cast their ballots in support of the DSSS, though the party did not appear at all among their preferences in the previous poll two years ago, the paper writes.

A couple of years ago, the court banned the DSSS's predecessor, the Workers' Party (DS), as dangerous for its extremist and xenophobic positions.

The fact that as many as 13 percent of students said they favoured the Pirate Party is not surprising, on the other hand, Mlejnek said, adding that the party owes its success to students being familiar with the Internet.

The poll also indicated that the number of Eurosceptics is rising among students. Forty-three percent assessed the Czech EU membership positively, compared to 58 percent three years ago.

The portion of those believing that they have no chance to influence Czech national or local problems has remained the same, 80 percent, LN concludes.

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