The Struggle for Equality in Education: Combating Roma School Segregation Through Litigation
Racially-motivated segregation in education is one of the most serious human rights violations faced by the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe. Since late 1990s, human rights activists have been challenging in courts the discriminatory practice of separating Roma from non-Roma pupils. From 2007 to date the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg issued 7 judgments in cases related to Roma school segregation in the Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia and, most recently, Hungary. At the national level, courts and specialized national equality bodies have also reviewed a few dozen cases of Roma school segregation.
CEU Legal Studies Department convenes a panel discussion on this issue. The discussion is part of a series of debates organized worldwide focusing on Roma school segregation and launched after the publication of Ten Years After: A History of Roma school desegregation in Central and Eastern Europe, by CEU Press and Roma Education Fund, Budapest 2012. Similar debates organized in 2012 took place in Skopje, Bucharest, Prague, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., and Cadiz.
This panel strives to assess the progress, to date, in challenging school segregation through litigation and answer few challenging questions.
Such questions are:
- What are the challenges in arguing segregation cases before courts?
- Is there a common understanding of segregation as a legal concept?
- Which aspect should prevail: parental choice or best interest of the child?
- Is there a tension between minority rights and human rights approach to education?
The invited panelists will also present their views on the future of Roma school desegregation in Europe.
John Shattuck, President and Rector
Professor Renata Uitz, Head of the Legal Studies Department
Lilla Farkas is an attorney registered with the Budapest Bar Association. She works for the Chance for Children Foundation on public interest litigation aimed at desegregating Hungarian schools and for the Migration Policy Group as a senior legal policy analyst. She is the race (Roma) ground coordinator for the European Network of Independent Experts in the Non-discrimination Field. Between 2005 and 2011 she served as president of the Hungarian Equal Treatment Authority's Advisory Board.
Orsolya Szendrey is an advocacy consultant promoting Roma integration in EU structural funds programming in Hungary. She has supported the litigation of two education segregation cases of the Chance for the Children Foundation as an expert. Ms. Szendrey is a former policy consultant of the Roma Education Fund and former policy adviser of the Hungarian Ministry of Education. She was program manager of Hungary’s first public education development program promoting equal opportunities for Roma. She took part in the elaboration of the system of equal opportunity conditionality in public education development and worked as a supervisor of equal opportunity experts.
Iulius Rostas is the editor of the Ten Years After: A History of the Roma school desegregation in Central and Eastern Europe and serves as consultant for the Roma Education Fund. He is a Roma researcher specialized in education, antidiscrimination, and social inclusion policies, who previously coordinated the international advocacy unit of the European Roma Rights Center and served as the Director of OSF Roma programs from 2005 to 2008.