UN CERD drew attention to the problem of discrimination against Roma children in Georgian schools

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at the 108th Session in November 2022 reviewed the state report of Georgia and alternative materials submitted by representatives of the civil society. In its recommendations, the Committee expressed concern about the violation of the rights of children from among ethnic minorities, including Roma, to education (the report of the ADC Memorial was devoted to the situation of Roma groups in Georgia).

The Committee noted the general efforts of the Georgian authorities to combat discrimination: in particular, the adoption of amendments to the anti-discrimination law (2014), that took place in 2019, expanding the scope of the law and strengthening the authority of the People’s Defender’s Office to investigate complaints of discrimination, as well as the adoption of the State Strategy of Civil Equality and Integration in 2021. The Committee considers that the discriminatory attitude towards ethnic minorities is still preserved and that the awareness of the representatives of ethnic minorities about the relevant legislation and compensation mechanisms remains extremely limited.

One of the main topics raised by CERD experts during the session was the violation of the rights of ethnic minorities to education. Noting that school and preschool education serves as the most important factor in the integration of children representatives of ethnic minorities into Georgian society, the Committee noted the shortcomings of school infrastructure in areas of compact ethnic minority residence, poor teacher training and lack of reference materials for teachers of the Georgian language and languages of ethnic minorities.

CERD experts recommended to the authorities of Georgia to amend the educational provision in the areas of compact residence of ethnic minorities, including in relation to access to preschool education, school infrastructure, specialized language training and educational resources for teachers of Georgian as a second language and teachers of minority languages. It also recommended arranging the release of textbooks in minority languages.

In its concluding remarks, the Committee paid special attention to the problem of the education of Roma children. While welcoming the measures taken by Georgia to provide the Roma with personal documents, the Committee noted the persistence of significant problems in regard to the access of Roma children to education and their low learning outcomes, as well as language and cultural barriers, due to which Roma children miss classes and drop out of school more often than other pupils. The Committee is concerned that early marriages continue to hinder access to education for Roma girls. Therefore, the Committee recommended that the Georgian authorities enforce the ban on early marriage and implement the practice effectively, including through awareness-raising campaigns among Roma, educating about the harmful effects of early marriage, and providing victims with appropriate rehabilitation and counselling services.

In other recommendations, the experts of the Committee emphasized the need to facilitate the access of Roma children to pre-school institutions, as well as the need to ensure the effective integration of Roma children into the pre-school environment, so that the children could enter primary school with sufficient knowledge of the Georgian language. It was also recommended to support the organization of extra-curricular activities and clubs, the work of schools and municipal child protection services to attract children to schools and receive a full education.

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