Roma and discrimination

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Roma and discrimination

Slovakia cuts off the Roma from the rest of society by building walls and separating the Roma children in schools, says Lydia James.


Education and housing are two areas where Roma are cut off from others. This baby has an uncertain future. (Chuck Sudetic/Open Society Foundations under a Creative Commons Licence)

There is more and more segregation of Roma people in Slovakia (Eastern European). But a new law last September forced a junior-elementary school to mix all students together.

Before the court case, Roma pupils at Sarissvke Michal’any school had separate classes. They had to play outside in different areas and they could not go into the café. This ‘segregation’ happened in other areas of Slovakia too.

But seven months after the new law, not much has changed. Most classes at Sarissvke Michal’any are still segregated. Only the 16 brightest Roma students can now go into classrooms that were for ‘white only’ before.

Recently, there has been a lot more separation in schools. In Slovakia, 40 per cent of Roma students have separate classes. 20 years ago, it was only 7 per cent.

And the separation is not only in schools. Last August, the local authorities built a wall to cut off the Roma communities in Košice, the second-largest city in Slovakia. The city council has said it will remove the wall. In the same year, Košice was criticized by many countries for discrimination against Roma communities and it was also called ‘European Capital of Culture’ by the EU.

The wall in Košice wall is the 14th wall built in Slovakia since 2008. Behind the walls are crowded shanty towns – city housing projects or rural settlements. Most do not have running water, heating, sanitation and public services like rubbish collection.

The Roma group face discrimination across Europe; the Czech Republic and Romania also have anti-Roma ‘security’ barriers.


(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).