In Hungary, segregation begins at school

| April 5, 2011 | 0 Comments

Roma people, often called gypsies, have been persecuted for centuries. Today, in Hungary, say civil rights activists, segregation still exists. Two hundred primary schools across the country serve only Roma families. Non-profit organisation Chance for Children reported last year that non-Roma families can afford to enrol their children in more affluent schools. Roma families are more likely to end up in economically disadvantaged communities – the collapse of communism hit this sector of the population the hardest.

Chance for Children reports that segregation also occurs through education testing. Roma children are often misdiagnosed as being intellectually disabled, and are then placed in schools with limited budgetary and staffing resources. Segregation is also perpetuated through authorities’ tolerance of high truancy rates in Roma schools, and the refusal of other schools to accept Roma children. A recent poll revealed that 94% of non-Roma Hungarians would not want their child sitting next to a Roma pupil in school. Discrimination also affects teachers in so-called Roma schools, and they find it hard to secure jobs in other institutions. Life in Roma schools, however, is demanding. The culture means its children have special needs, with which many teachers are ill-equipped to deal. The situation in Hungary, says Chance for Children, is not that different in neighbouring Central European countries, including Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Hungary is the one central European country, however, with legislation that explicitly outlaws segregation.

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Category: Autumn 2011

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