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Hussam Hussein
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Hi and thanks for visiting my profile :) My name is Hussam, I'm a blogger-researcher-journalist, member of the European Youth Press’ Middle East and North Africa Committee (MENAC). I studied in Italy (Trieste/Gorizia), England (SOAS, London), and Poland (College of Europe). Academically, my background is mainly in Diplomacy and International Relations, with a focus on Environment. My interests are climate change, water, development and international cooperation.


Forced special schools for Roma children?

Published 06th July 2010 - 18 comments - 2383 views -

According to Amnesty International and many human rights' NGOs, Romani children in Slovakia are being denied the right to a proper education by a system that routinely discriminates against them, for instance putting them in classes for children with mental disabilities only because of their belonging.

In the last months, Slovakia proposed to build some special schools where to bring the children of the Roma people in order to assure them their right to have an education. The Slovakkian Prime Minister, Mr. Robert Frico, underlined that the idea is to take the children from their home settlements and bring them to the state schools where only Roma students will be learning. In fact, the proposal is to have special schools only for them, and on this point there is a division in the public opinion as well as concern from some NGOs.

In fact, Amnesty International, is concerned about this proposal because "uprooting children from their surroundings and removing them from their families is an attack on their identity" and because "isolated from the outside world, Romani children will find it more difficult to fully participate in Slovak society. The government's proposal will perpetuate the segregation they experience now. In fact it will make it official."

Amnesty International also believes that this proposal is not compatible with the Slovakian and with the European law.


For more info on Amnesty's position on the situation of the Roma's children in Slovakia:

In my opinion, it is important to assure every child in the world a proper education, but not in this way (segregation)... what about you, fellow bloggers? any comment?

Category: Education | Tags:


  • Iwona Frydryszak on 06th July 2010:

    the same situation is in Czech Republic. I posted about it as well. Amnesty International is quite active in this term. I coordinate the project about reporting about Roma communities now so me&participants; we visited some schools. One of it was in Olomouc, Czech Republic and it was a segregated school as well. Well it’s very complex topic. In my opinion the problem is not in schools but in lack of kindergarten opportunities for Roma kids. I do agree that it’s better to put Roma kids to only Roma primary school if they hadn’t attend any kindergarten.

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 06th July 2010:

    In the film there is another interesting thing - I noticed that in Czech Republic as well (it doesn’t exist in Poland at all) - Roma called let say majority - white people… But in fact Slavic People come from the same ethnic group as Roma - Indo-European

  • Luan Galani on 06th July 2010:

    Hi Hussam,

    Nice post. This proposal is absurd…I was not aware of it. Do you know by any chance if the government has already spoken on that?

    Thanks for it.

  • Luan Galani on 06th July 2010:

    Oh, btw, the video is overwhelming. Completely shocking. =’(

  • Hussam Hussein on 07th July 2010:

    Luan, glad that you found it interesting. For more info concerning the SLovakian government’s proposal, see this site: the government propsed it in the middle of march 2010.
    @ Iwona: thanks, I didn’t notice your post before. And I didn’t know much about their situation in Czech Republic.

  • Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 07th July 2010:

    Special schools for Roma kids s a very bad idea, in deed, and I think similar ideas have been tested on native populations around the world with a bad result.

    What really is the problem is that formal education does not seem profitable enough for many Roma, I think, since they probably expect to end up in jobs where they don’t need it anyway. I don’t think you can solve this problem in the schools - it is more a problem of general discrimation in society.

  • Hussam Hussein on 07th July 2010:

    Thanks Daniel for your contribution. I think on the one hand, that education is a basic right of all children, on the other hand I understand that also Roma people could see the schools as a waste of time… however, here I am not talking about university or higher education, but the primary schools, where I believe everyone should go.
    It is right that it is not a sectoral problem, but a more general one that should be handle from different perspectives, but also the educational one is indeed an important one. What do you think?

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 07th July 2010:

    I agree that every kids should go to primary school and reach the level that the kid is able to read with understanding and count and have a skill of abstract thinking. but if roma kids doesn’t have any think like this at home - no reading fairy tales, no newspaper, no cultur of reading, no drawing, it’s difficult to jump at the same level as kids from mainstream society where culture of bring up kid is diffrient. that’s way i belive that going to segregated schools at the begining to reach the level of other kids is crusial. i mean it’s better for them to pick up something in nice and safe enviroment.

  • Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 07th July 2010:

    I agree a 150% that primary education is a human right, that all children should enjoy for free. But the problem is complex - and as Iwona points out, there are many other factors involved also.

    I think this is quite relevant in the bigger discussion about the MDG about education for all. 100% enrollment is an important first step, but that in itself can not be enough. The important thing is what happens in school. I think two of the most important things are:

    a) develop education into somthing that everyy child benefits from, and that lets every child develop its competences

    b) develop the economic situation into one where people need education. Then they will fight for it - and fight to make it a good education.

  • Andrea Arzaba on 10th July 2010:

    Hussam I loved your article, as it is something I had never heard of. I am really upset about hering the situation of Roma children…ahhh in the end we are all HUMANS…and we all have the RIGHT for EDUCATION!

    I believe discrimination is another important fact to fight through education. What is your personal point of view about this issue?

  • Hussam Hussein on 10th July 2010:

    Thanks to Andrea and to all those that inviened in this discussion and that read the post smile
    @ Andrea: I believe that schools should be the place where the formation of the future citizens should be made. Tehrefore, the discrimination issue as well as many others should be part of the curricula of schools. what do you think about that?do you think today schools teach enough about these issues?

  • Andrea Arzaba on 11th July 2010:

    Hussam thank you for starting the discussion! And YES i agree with your poit of view…discrimination issues and “self care” should be treated as well, specially with minorities. I can compare this case with Mexico and indigenous -native- people…always getting the worst education and they also feel discriminated within the country (and they DO actually feel less than others)

  • Guy Degen on 11th July 2010:

    Hussam thanks for posting this. It makes you wonder sometimes about development and human rights in Europe.

    In 2007 I travelled through eastern Slovakia and saw first hand the discrimination Roma face. Even in a leading maternity hospital near Kosice (which known for it’s innovative music therapy for new borns), a senior staff member spoke to me about placing Roma mothers in separate wards. Why? Because non-Roma mums felt uncomfortable sharing a room with Roma. Smoking in wards and personal hygiene were cited as problems with Roma but to me it seemed clear they were being treated as second class citizens.
    I also visited a small Roma settlement near Presov. Segregation of children occurs as a result of local authorities building a school adjacent to the village. Yes, it’s convenient for kids, unlike the long journey children in the above Amnesty film face, but perhaps it’s also a case of keeping Roma kids out of sight, out of mind.
    I wonder what real progress has been made for Roma in Slovakia since it became an EU member state in 2004?
    On a slightly happier note for Roma, I’ve visited settlements outside of Tirana, Albania, where NGO’s are helping parents and children acquire their birth certificates. Their struggle to attain their right to a name, registration and access to basic community services is possible.

  • Hussam Hussein on 11th July 2010:

    @ Andrea: you’re completely right!
    @ Guy: Thanks for your first hand testimony. It is very interesting. Actually in few weeks I will be back in Brussels, so I could make some interviews to EU officers of the Commission and see…

    @ all: it is interesting this discussion: better to have special schools or classes for Roma children in order to give them a special education according to their culture that is different (as well as their educational background) than this of other Slovakkian children, as maybe suggested by Iwona; or maybe better to have total equality and therefore mixed classes?
    What I think is that both the ideas have some parts of trues, therefore maybe would be better to have indeed mixed classes, but with special teachers that could help in particular Roma children if they find difficulties in learning in the classes, like it happens in the rest of Europe (and in particular in Scandinavia).
    what do you think?

  • Luan Galani on 11th July 2010:

    I cannot help thanking you for your first hand testimony, @Guy. It is a mockingly shocking reality. You said all…it makes us wonder sometimes about development in Europe.

    @All: Thanks for this intriguing discussion. I tend to agree with Iwona. From my personal point of view, it would be better to have segregated schools only at the begining to reach the level of other kids.

    But we have to be careful with this approach, since it may become a diversion. It can be an effective means of keeping them out of mind, fueling prejudice.

  • Hussam Hussein on 12th July 2010:

    Thanks Luan for your point of view wink

  • Hussam Hussein on 12th July 2010:

    Luan, I was thinking at what you and Iwona said… that’s in theory maybe ok, but in practice… it seems really segregation, and remember of other time… maybe just add special teachers that in some extra hours in the afternoon or after classes could help the students that may help some difficulties… what do you think?

  • Hussam Hussein on 26th July 2010:

    Hi, just wanted to let you note that I have just written a new post on what the EU has just done concerning the Roma people. Please, check it out:

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