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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Discrimination not Established, Despite Existence of Segregation in the Primary School “Vuk Karadzic” in Nis

Segregation, as a form of discrimination on the basis of racial, national, class or religious difference, is a specific social problem delicacy of which is particularly evident in the region of Southern Serbia, where the number of members of Roma population is higher. NGO Praxis reacted to one of the more evident forms of segregation in the region of Southern Serbia – the fact that, in the last twenty years, 90% of children enrolled in the Primary School “Vuk Karadzic” in Nis were members of Roma ethnic minority, while only two to three children per generation belong to non-Roma population – by filing a complaint to the Commissioner for Protection of Equality against the Nis City Administration, Department of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and against the Primary School “Vuk Karadzic” from Nis, that is, against the School Principal as the responsible person.

Upon the conducted procedure, the Commissioner for Protection of Equality gave her opinion. In addition to the course of procedure explained in detail and statements of persons the complaint refers to (Head of the Department for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of the Nis City Administration, Principal of the Primary School “Vuk Karadzic,” but also the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development), the decision of the Commissioner established the factual state of affairs: not denying existence of segregation, the Commissioner estimated that it was a multidisciplinary problem the resolving of which requested articulated action by the socially responsible entities. In this actual case, the Commissioner gave a recommendation referring to formulating and implementing the plan of measures the realization of which should overcome the problem of segregation, i.e. high number of Roma children in the Primary School “Vuk Karadzic” in Nis. Department for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of the Nis City Administration should assume responsibility for realization of these measures.

However, the opinion and the recommendation in this actual case do not essentially solve the problem of segregation. The fact is that the afore-mentioned school is located near a large Roma settlement in Nis. Relying on the fluctuating provisions of the Law on the Fundamentals of the Education System (which enables the citizens to enroll their children in schools at their own discretion, without limitations as regards the choice of the institution), circumstances have been created which allow the competent services to be passive in responding to discrimination the occurrence of which is becoming more and more evident every year, and to do so within the legal framework.

Observing the above-mentioned case as a representative example of the situation in the field of human rights, one comes to the conclusion that one of the basic tasks in combat against all forms of discrimination should be creating a firm legislative basis, where there would be no conditions for unequal proceeding towards any vulnerable social groups by adhering to “the letter of the law”.

For more information please see the announcement Commissioner for Protection of Equality Has Not Established Discrimination Irrespective of Segregation in Primary School “Vuk Karadzic” in Nis 

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