Boarding schools for Roma kids? - Macleans.ca
 

Boarding schools for Roma kids?

The UN has not condemned the plan, although activists are angry


 

Elvis Barukcic/AFP/Getty Images

In an attempt to integrate future generations of Roma into European society, the Slovakian government has controversially proposed to send children of Roma families to state-run boarding schools. Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico made the announcement in March following a damning report by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay during her annual address. Pillay slammed Slovakia for the “deteriorating” situation of its impoverished, widely unemployed Roma citizens, who represent around 10 per cent of Slovakia’s overall population of 5.4 million.

“The [next] government’s agenda must include a program designed to gradually put as many Roma children as possible into boarding schools and gradually separate them from the life they live in their settlements,” said Fico, whose left-wing Smer party is facing a June election. “It seems that there is no other system. Many things have been tried. If we don’t do it, we will raise another generation of Roma which will not be able to integrate.”

A recent EU summit in Spain focusing on the Roma situation in Europe concluded that tens of thousands of Roma children are currently sent to schools for the mentally disabled, and suffer from a widely adopted systemic racism that perpetuates the segregation problem. Fico’s solution hasn’t been rejected by the EU, on the condition that the schools are voluntary and temporary. The Slovak government has confirmed preliminary approval of the plan by top Roma officials, and that the schooling would be indeed offered on a voluntary basis.

But human rights organizations have decried Fico’s solution. “[The Canadian Roma community] are very upset about it,” says Ronald Lee, a Hamilton-based Roma-Canadian author and activist. “It’s like native children in Canada being sent to residential schools. It destroys the ethnicity, the culture, the language, the sense of identity. How are they going to be treated in these boarding schools? Prejudice over there is rampant.”


 

Boarding schools for Roma kids?

  1. What could possibly go wrong? Oh wait, we know exactly what could go wrong…

  2. Human beings are really that stupid or ignorant or apathetic that they make callous policy recommendations like this one. Instead of removing the roma kids from their mothers, how about… you know actually spend the money instead on provide essentials for the roma kids so they have a chance instead of sending them to mental institutions.

    • "you know actually spend the money instead on provide essentials for the roma kids so they have a chance instead of sending them to mental institutions"

      They get plenty of money from the government of Slovakia. Unemployed gypsies get monthly support payments for every child that they have, even if they have 6 – 7 children. If they don't have their every whim catered to, the gypsies start screaming out "racism" as a means of extortion tactic against the majority non-Gypsy population. Welfare laws in Canada aren't as generous to single mothers or low-income parents as the Slovakian government is to the many of the (often habitually) unemployed gypsies… so why don't you find out a bit more of the facts from a more unbiased source before you go around condemning an entire country about which you apparently know nothing about.

  3. None of the commentors have grasped the problem, however. These children are pathetic and their families are uneducated. How do you break this cycle? Through education. Boarding schools are extreme, but perhaps requiring them to send their children to a local school is not. These people are criminals that repeat the cycle by training their children to be criminals. You can argue all day about how it all started, but somewhere, sometime, the cycle must be broken. Anyone who has spent any time in Europe sees the issue.

  4. Roma kids are between a rock and a hard place. Their parents are
    reluctant to place them in schools because they know how rampant and
    intense the danger of discrimination and prejudice is. Ask Roma parents
    how they feel about the idea of letting their kid stay at boarding school.