Polish Ministry to close Gypsy-only classes

WARSAW, Poland, August 1, 2008  - Poland's Education Minister plans to shut down Gypsy-only school classes following complaints they are discriminatory.

"There will absolutely be no more forming of separate classes for Roma children," Katarzyna Hall told radio Tok FM on Friday. "We must put an end to this."
 
In 2004, the Council of Europe appealed to Poland and other nations with Roma minorities to put an end to segregated classes.
 
But Poland's Dziennik daily newspaper reported this week that, according to Interior Ministry data, separate Gypsy classes were operating  in five southern and eastern towns over the last school year.
 
Gypsy children were sent to separate classes under the pretext that they did not speak Polish, although many were fluent according to the newspaper report.
 
One school even had separate entrances for Gypsies and Poles, according to the paper.
 
Krzysztof Stanowski, Hall's deputy, told The Associated Press that all children will be put together, regardless of ethnicity, as of Sept. 1.
 
"The minister is talking to all local education authorities concerned and has said that starting this school year separate Roma classes will not be formed," Stanowski said.
 
He said the Ministry of Education opposed any kind of discrimination, and praised the newspaper for raising the issue.

By Monika Scislowska, Roma Daily News/ Roma Virtual Network