Struggle Against Segregation and Discrimination of Roma Children at Schools: the First Results

In 2009, parents of Roma children from Nizhnie Vyazovye village, Tatarstan Republic addressed ADC MEMORIAL with a request to render assistance in protection of children’s rights to education. The parents complained about the quality of education (the children had difficulties in reading and maths problems after completion of 4th and even 5th grades) and about the schooling of all Roma children of different ages in one classroom. In August, 2009 ADC MEMORIAL addressed the Zelenodolsky district’s Department of Education with a request to draw attention to the problems of realization of Roma children’s rights to education and specifically to segregation of Roma children in the local school of Nizhnie Vyazovye.

Since the Department of Education and school Administration left this case out of the account, ADC MEMORIAL had to file a complaint with Regional Office of Public Prosecutor about the violation of children’s rights and interests. Unfortunately, the Prosecutor’s investigation did not find any violations and children of different ages continued to study in one classroom, unable to receive quality education and the possibility to continue to secondary school. Due to the high importance of this problem and continuous violation of children’s rights, ADC MEMORIAL filed a second complaint, insisting that a quality of education test be conducted and the children’s rights be protected.

At the same time ADC MEMORIAL conducted independent expertise in order to evaluate the level and quality of education of the “Roma class” children in Nizhnie Vyazovye village. The experts also tested a Roma girl, who was the only Roma pupil in the regular first grade class of 2009-2010. The results of the expert evaluation showed a big difference in educational levels between children from the regular first grade class and the “Roma class”. Obviously, the level of education in the regular class was much higher and corresponded to the educational standards of first grade graduates. In contrast, children from “Roma class”, who studied a year or more, did not even know letters and numbers.

Finally, after the second complaint, ADC MEMORIAL received a reply from the Public Prosecutor’s office. It states, that from next year, Roma children will study in regular classes, corresponding to their age. We hope that this is an actual attempt of government agencies to stop illegal practice of discrimination. We also hope, that the situation with children’s rights to education in Nizhnie Vyazovye is going to get better in the next study year.


Expert of ADC MEMORIAL talks to children of Nizhnie Vyazovye village.

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