REF Condemns Anti-Roma Incident in Gornji Hrašćan25. September 2012 - 11:28 — Dejan Georgievski
The Roma Education Fund (REF) laments the events of September 17, 2012, when the local population of the Gornji Hrašćan village in Međimurje prevented the Roma children from the biggest Roma settlement in Croatia – Parag, to enter the local school where they were to start their preschool education.
The locals insisted that the Roma children should go to other schools, not their own. They said that they had nothing against the Roma, but they wanted to protect their own children because, as they say, Roma children go to school with little advance knowledge and have suspect hygienic habits, the Dalje.com portal reports.
The Parag children were transferred to Gornji Hrašćan because of overloaded capacities of the "Dr. Ivan Novak" elementari school in Macinac, and the citizens of Gornji Hrašćan say that the school, which serves 33 pupils in three classes, is too small to house the Roma children.
„We lament the fact that the first preschool day for 51 Roma children, their first experience with the Croatian education system, a moment they expected with excitement, turned into a confrontation with 40 angry adults who prevented them from entering the school, in effect telling them that they were not welcome“, REF says in a public release issued yesterday, September 24.
REF noted that, since 2010, it has cooperated with the District of Međimurje and the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports on the implementation of the „Through Preschool to Full Integration“ project, which was launched as part of activities to implement the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the Oršuš vs. Croatia, where it found the segregation of Roma children in Međimurje’s elementary schools discriminatory. In 2013, the project will be presented under the auspices of Croatian presidency with the Roma Inclusion Decade.
REF emphasizes that it intended to continue the cooperation with all stakeholders to support the efforts intended to allow access to quality education for Roma children.
„Having in mind that this is not the first instance of resistance of the majority population to Roma settling or enrolling their children in the schools in a given area, we call on all competent institutions to intensify their efforts and to work with local and international stakeholders to identify the approaches that would ensure more intensive work on raising the awareness among the majority population about the discrimination faced by the Roma people. We are convinced that through joint efforts of all stakeholders in Croatia and with well aimed actions we can do a lot to prevent similar future incidents“, REF says.
At the meeting that the parents of the children from Gornji Hrašćan held on September 17 with the president of the Local Community of Gornji Hrašćan, the President of the Local Community of Parag, the Mayor of Nedelišće Municipality and other stakeholders, an agreement was reached that preschool classes for Roma children will start at the Gornji Hrašćan elementary school. It was agreed to taks the principal and the faculty members to secure the best possible working conditions for all children. (Source: Zamirzine/Dalje.com)