The Education Ministry has proposed introducing lessons in Romani language and culture in schools, to encourage Roma pupils and foster greater integration in society. The plan, reported this week by the newspaper Lidové noviny, is still in the early stages – the ministry is about to launch a pilot project in a number of schools. But it’s been welcomed by NGOs working to improve educational standards among the Roma.
Nine Burmese families are now making a life for themselves in the Czech Republic. One father explained how he fled his country after coming under suspicion from the ruling military regime of having helped rebels. The 43 Burmese refugees, from the Cin ethnic group, are the first to be offered asylum in the Czech Republic under a project organised with the United Nations. Another group should follow soon. Director of the Burma Centre in Prague, Sabe Amthor Soe, has been closely involved in the project and helping families settle in. I asked her first
The conditions in which the Czech Republic’s Roma minority lives have not improved in the last decade, in fact many of the groups working with Roma issues say their situation in Czech society, and relationship with Czechs, is in a gradual downward spiral. Unemployment among the Roma is said to be at more than 80%, high debt is rampant, and this has fostered social exclusion and breeding grounds for crime and drug use. And in turn violent crime against Roma communities has become, if not more prevalent, then more extreme. In this week’s Talking
The Czech Medical Chamber says it’s drafted an apology to Jewish doctors struck off its books during the so-called Second Republic - the short period between the end of democratic Czechoslovakia and the beginning of Nazi occupation. Long before the Germans invaded, a number of Czech professional organisations started banning Jews from their ranks, motivated by a combination of Nazi propaganda and economic self-interest.
On Monday, the government approved a proposal to open schools designed to integrate socially disadvantaged and disabled children. The measure is meant to address the lack of integration in the Czech school system and seeks to facilitate co-education of disabled and healthy children, as well as to include children from socially weak families, including children of Romany origin. One of the possible ways of helping to integrate these students would be to introduce a mandatory pre-school year to help bring children’s abilities to an elementary school level. The proposal also seeks to increase the number of staff trained to address the needs of disabled students and students who have a hard time keeping up with the class.
On Tuesday, the umbrella organization of transport unions apologized to Gustav Slámečka, the Minister of Transport, for homophobic remarks made by one of its leaders, Jaromir Dušek. In an open letter to the minister the union said that Mr. Dušek’s homophobic remarks damaged the image of all members of the union and were offensive to all decent people. It added that it hoped the incident would not damage relations between the transport union and the ministry in the long run. On Monday, trade unions publicly distanced themselves from Dušek’s homophobic statements. Dušek said in an interview for Saturday’s Lidové Noviny that the transport sector was run by a clique of homosexuals who had people both in the cabinet and the office of the government.
Transport and services union leader Jaromír Dušek has evoked outrage on the Czech political scene by launching a vicious and homophobic attack on the management of Czech Railways. In an interview for Saturday’s Lidové Noviny, Mr. Dušek said Czech Railways was run by a clique of incompetent gays who had links to homosexuals in the cabinet and the Office of the Government. The controversial trade union leader has now been barred from speaking for the umbrella trade unions organization and is likely to face charges of slander.
Monday is International Women’s Day, and in 2010 that means one hundred years since the holiday was introduced. The idea to highlight the struggle for women’s rights around the world picked up a different tone in communist countries like Czechoslovakia though, and was largely discarded after 1989. Now some NGOs in the Czech Republic want to use the 100th anniversary to reawaken the spirit of activism that Women’s Day originally stood for.
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