a racist, classist “pro-education” campaign

“Minister Kocáb disgusted with Slovak Roma advertising” (via h.)

Prague, Oct 8 (CTK) – Czech Human Rights and Ethnic Minorities Minister Michael Kocab considers the method of advertising education used by Romany workers from Slovakia cynical and calculating, his spokeswoman Lejla Abbasova told CTK Thursday.

Workers from Slovakia, mainly Romanies, who repaired communications in Prague centre on Wednesday wore yellow T-shirts with the inscription “I should have studied harder!, thus becoming walking advertisements for education.

The inscription also mentioned the web address www.skoly.cz that participates in the event with the Underline communication agency.

[…] Kocab said such advertising was deepening a degrading stereotype of an uneducated Romany.

According to Pravo, the workers allegedly got cigarettes, beer and sausages as a reward for the participation in the advertising campaign.

They allegedly agreed to wear the advertising T-shirts voluntarily, Pravo writes.

However, the www.romea.cz server, which also informed about the event, said that the workers refused to put on the T-shirts Thursday. The server described the event as offending.

[…] “The method in which this mediation portal of renowned educational institutions is conducting its advertising campaign contradicts the ethics of education and certainly leads society to intolerance and xenophobia,” Kocab said.

The campaign is also offending in another respect, he said.

“To point to manual workers’ work as to a degrading profession is an insult to the profession and it is mainly the deepening of another stereotype. A manual worker should not necessarily have a low education or to be uneducated,” Kocab said.

the campaign is obviously heinous and unacceptable, but when one takes into consideration such easily accessible information as:

“The Roma more than anyone else lost out in the transition to the market economy in the countries of Central and South Eastern Europe. Their unemployment rate is 100 per cent in some rural areas and the Roma’s dependence on government benefits is widespread. […] It is shown that lack of formal education cannot provide a full explanation of the relatively high unemployment rates faced by Roma and that at least part of the problem arises from discrimination in employment. Roma are also disproportionately employed in low-quality jobs in the informal sector.”
(“Education and Employment Opportunities for the Roma”)


” […] very young children are faced [with de facto open segregation] with in Slovakia, only because of their ethnic origin and low socio-economic background. This discrimination involves placing children in segregated schools for Roma-only, or even in institutions for children with mental disabilities.

[…] these are frequent practices tolerated by the Slovak authorities, who have so far been unable to put an end to the discrimination that undermines the potential of an entire generation and violates Slovakia’s obligations as an EU Member State.”
(“Severe discrimination of Roma children in Slovakia – a call for action to the EU and the Slovak government”)

as well as:

“According to unofficial statistics the Roma are the biggest ethnic minority group in the Czech Republic, with an estimate number of 160-300,000 or about 1.6-3% of the overall population. Similar to other countries, statistical information on Roma in the Czech Republic is very limited since the Roma are hesitant of declaring their Roma identity.

A 2003 UNDP report notes that the Roma in the Czech Republic are better off than in other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and they also have better social and health conditions. This is due partially to a rather comprehensive system of social benefits and to the general economic context of the Czech Republic. Social exclusion, which is often called ghettoisation, continues to be a pressing problem, as it has negative consequences in all areas, including education.
The Czech Republic has still not adopted comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. The Anti-Discrimination Act got rejected by the Senate in January 2006 and subsequently failed to pass the Chamber of Deputies in May 2006. The Anti-discrimination Act was meant to transpose the EU’s Racial Equality Directive and replace the existing fragmented anti-discrimination legislation, which consists of more than 60 acts.

Discrimination in the Czech Republic is forbidden based on constitutional bans on discrimination and special sections in the Education Act, Labour Code and other pieces of legislation, as required by the Race and Framework directives 2000/43 and 2000/78. In practice, however, implementation is hindered by the lack of adequate enforcement mechanisms.

[…] The education of Roma in the Czech Republic has shown visible improvement lately. There are clear indicators of political commitment to improve the education of Roma children, such as the Government Concept of Roma Integration, with a new focus and support for early childhood care (e.g. preparatory classes, teacher assistants, free kindergarten, secondary school scholarships, etc.), and the formal abolishment of special education schools targeting Roma. In addition, funding for the education of disadvantaged children is secured through the ministerial development programme replacing the previous irregular grants from private donors. However, the implementation of the different Government acts, regulations and programmes would need to be strengthened via more efficient enforcement mechanisms and enhanced institutional capacities.

The education system in the Czech Republic continues to be burdened by several barriers that exclude Roma from full and sustained participation.

1. Segregation:
-> The Czech education system does not have a clear response to residential segregation. There are no desegregation strategies. Roma children from remote settlements are educated in substandard schools and are left with no prospect to integrate into further education cycles.
-> The unusually early tracking that can take place at age 11 in the primary education level, affects Roma most, as the majority of them are enrolled into low quality or practical schools, without further prospects of a quality education.
-> Formal removal of special schools from the legal framework did not change the fact that Roma are educated in separate facilities, with an inferior curriculum and teachers with lower expectations.

2. Lack of acknowledgement of Roma language, culture and needs:
-> There are virtually no Roma teachers.
-> No attention is paid to inclusion, diversity, and equal opportunity issues in the training of head teachers and school managers.
-> The Czech Republic is one of the rare countries in the region were the Romanes language is not taught, even as an optional subject (with some exceptions as in specialized secondary school for Roma). The importance of Romanes is generally ignored by schools and most NGOs.

3. Implementation gaps:
-> The Decade Action Plan and earlier government strategies and action plans on Roma, including the Concept of Roma Integration, are not well integrated within mainstream policies, and their implementation is not effective enough.
-> Despite a recognized need for pre-school education for children from marginalized socioeconomic backgrounds, the availability of pre-primary education is still limited.
-> Funding through open grant schemes and “development programmes” is not effective enough, evaluation of impact on Roma is hampered through insensitive data collection mechanisms.”
(“Advancing Education of Roma in the Czech Rebublic”)

– it becomes downright tragic that its initiators, who believe it somehow has “the good aim of supporting the awareness of the importance of education among the younger part of the population”, have anything to do with education.

the company, called the International Education Society, can be contacted in the following ways:

* E-mail:

* Telephone:
+420 543 215 281
+420 543 215 282

* International Education Society Ltd.
Horní 729/32
639 00 Brno – Štýřice
Czech Republic

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