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Senator Calls For Segregation of Roma Children In Czech Schools

Zwyrtek Hamplova claimed that segregation would be good for both non-Roma and Roma students. Photo credit: Freepik. 

Prague, March 31 (CTK) – In a speech in the Czech Senate yesterday, Senator Jana Zwyrtek Hamplova (Independent) proposed that schools could create separate classes for Roma children, which she claimed would be for the benefit of both groups.

Zwyrtek Hamplova said classes for all children were “a beautiful idea” but impossible to put it in practice “because we would harm the children who are not used to some ethnic group.”

“On the contrary, if separate classes for Roma children were created, we might develop equal opportunities for them in the future. This is not discrimination, on the contrary, it is an absolutely reasonable step,” she said.

Her comments met with a strong backlash today from Czech Roma organisations, Roma students, and the government commission for the Roma minority.

The Romea NGO described the senator’s statements as unacceptable and unethical. “Education should be the same for children of any ethnic origin and nobody should be segregated because of their ethnicity. This statement is nothing but an expression of racism and segregation,” said Romea’s Stefan Balog. “If we don’t want to return 50 years backwards, we should not take this absurd and stupid statement from the senator into account.”

Government commissioner for the Roma minority Jana Fukova said quality education is the most effective means to help children from all social and ethnic groups succeed in society. “Segregation limits success in education and, on the contrary, means huge economic costs for the state, regions and municipalities,” she said, quoted by the Romea server.

Roma activist Jaroslav Miko said Zwyrtek Hamplova’s statements were dangerous, as they radicalise Czech society and threaten the healthy development of children.

Journalist Jarmila Balazova said Zwyrtek Hamplova was trying to score easy political points from talking about a topic she did not understand.

Roma student Petr Pavel Banda, who studies economy and management at Brno’s Mendel University in Brno, said he appreciated studying alongside non-Roma students as they often had different points of view because of different experiences.

Zwyrtek Hamplova’s speech discussing proposed EU standards against discrimination was criticised on social networks. None of the other senators immediately reacted to her speech. Pirate senator Adela Sipova said today that highlighting such statements increased their impact.

Interior Minister Vit Rakusan (STAN) criticised Zwyrtek Hamplova later on Thursday. He said her speech was racism tinted with hypocrisy, because she had claimed that racial segregation was for the good of the segregated children.

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