Sharing practice in the education of Roma

Between 10 and 19 February, Equality held eight seminars across the Czech Republic and Slovakia on the benefits of an inclusive, mainstream education for Roma children.

What could seven UK-based teachers and education professionals, one Roma policeman and Equality’s Lucie Fremlova achieve from these peer-to-peer discussions? Both the Czech Republic and Slovakia have entrenched systems whereby Roma children are disproportionately placed in special schools or in de facto segregated schools, and receive an inferior education to their non-Roma peers. The Slovak government is keen to modernise its education system, the Czech government less so.

The number of participants attending the seminars, 340 teachers and other education professionals and officials, gives an indication of the sheer level of interest in this issue. The discussion, both during the seminars, more privately in follow-up correspondence teacher-to-teacher and in the wide media coverage, showed engagement. However, whereas in Slovakia the teachers were willing to consider whether the experience from a different education system could be applied in their country, in the Czech Republic the UK group encountered fierce hostility to changing their education system.

Where does this lead us to? Equality believes that continuing engagement and dialogue, teacher to teacher, with the evidence from the ‘From Segregation to Inclusion’ report to back this up, is likely to assist the debate and ultimately to help change the discriminatory educational practices in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. We aim to set up a virtual forum to exchange experience and practice in the education of Roma pupils, both within the UK and within the much wider Europe. Please contact Alan Anstead if you are interested in joining this forum.

The eight seminars were held with the kind support of the British Embassies in Prague and in Bratislava.

24 March 2012

Empowering and promoting social inclusion and equality

Equality | registered charity no 1138914

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Photo: Ciara Leeming