Violation of Romani children’s rights at school

ADC Memorial Statement On the Occasion of Human Rights Day, December 10, and the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)  

Despite the facts that Russian legislation specifies various guarantees for compulsory secondary education for every child and that there are statutory prohibitions from all forms of discrimination in the field of education in RF Constitution and Education Law, as well as in international documents such as UNCRC, European Convention, UNESCO Convention against Discriminatin in Education, some school students still are confronted with racism and segregationin schools.

HR monitoring held by ADC Memorial in places of compact Roma settlements has shown that the division of children in schools according to their ethnic characteristic in the form of separate classes and schools especially for Roma children is no exception but a widespread practice. Such division undoubtedly comes within the concept of segregation which corresponds to the most severe forms of ethnic discrimination (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination).

However, so called Roma classes, organized regardless of the current legislation, almost never involve ethnic component in teaching. There is no teaching of written Romani and no instruction in Romani language. Segregated teaching of Roma children reduces the quality of education which does not usually correspond to the standards (subjects like foreign languages, Physics and PE are simply excluded from the curriculum). As a consequence of such practice in the primary school the majority of Roma children are not prepared for entering the secondary school. Only a few study at senior school. Next to no one finishes the secondary school.

Putting Roma children to classes for retarded is to be considered a flagrant violation of the right of child. Children from Roma settlements are sent to special classes with reduced curriculum. This is generally practiced in some schools and helps the school administration to legally substantiate the division by ethnic principle. School management often uses this opportunity and makes all Roma children undergo an examination by a special medical and pedagogical commission whereas other students never pass such testing.

A school in Tula has become an example of such gross violation. Each year, all Roma children there were declared to be in need of compensatory education and given a mysterious diagnosis of “social deprivation and bilingualism”. Parents of children from compensatory classes where all students have been only Roma for decades have lodged a complaint about discrimination of their children and violation of their right to education. The Tula Court dismissed several complaints without any consideration and paid attention only to a complaint from Roma parents of adopted Russian child. In December 2009 the complaints from parents of Tula children will be brought into the European Court of Human Rights. The European Court position on analogous issue concerning segregation of Roma children in Czechia is already known. In 2008 the Court returned Czechia guilty of discrimination and demanded direct correction of the situation. ADC Memorial lawyers, who are bringing the action,refer to case decision of the Strasbourg Court concerning Czechia that stands in all EC countries as well as in RF.

Protection of Roma children rights is one of the foreground tasks of ADC Memorial and a number of international partner organizations. The RF government is bound to the claimed guarantees for observation of the rights of child and non-discrimination attitude towards various ethnic groups. HR specialists demand the execution of these commitments by writing a Report on Discrimination and Segregation of Roma Children in RF schools and contributing to making a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights from parents of discriminated children.


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