Slovenia : Roma and the right to
The Roma in Slovenia
- Out of
two million citizens, in the 2002 Slovenian census, approximately 3,000
people declared themselves as Roma. However, their real number is
estimated at between 7,000 and 12,000. 3,834 people have declared Romani
language as their first language.
- Most of
the Roma are concentrated in the Dolenjska and Bela Krajina regions in the
south-east of the country, and in the Prekmurje
region in northeastern Slovenia
near the border with Hungary.
Roma also live in urban centres, including in
the capital, Ljubljana.
Many of their settlements, especially in the Dolenjska
region, are not formally legalized; they lack sanitation, running water,
sewerage or waste removal services.
among Roma is above 90 per cent in some areas. Most of the working Roma
collect scrap iron and, occasionally, work at local farms.
Roma were “erased”, that is, unlawfully removed from the registry of
permanent residents in 1992, after Slovenia became independent.
As a consequence, they lost their jobs or could no longer be legally
Legal framework and the Roma education strategy
1991 Constitution provides for equality in the enjoyment of human rights
and fundamental freedoms, irrespective of national origin, race, sex,
language, religion, political or other conviction, material standing,
birth, education, social status, disability or any other personal
circumstance (Article 14).
Constitution contains detailed provisions on the special rights of the
Italian and Hungarian communities in Slovenia (Article 64),
including on the right to education and schooling in their own languages.
No such provisions are included on the rights of Romani communities.
law and practice differentiate between “autochthonous” (indigenous)
Italian and Hungarian minorities, who enjoy the highest degree of minority
rights protection, “autochthonous” Romani communities, who receive lower
protection, and “non-autochthonous” Roma, whom Slovenia excludes from the
scope of the implementation of the Council of Europe Framework Convention
for the Protection of National Minorities
Constitution enshrines the principle of compulsory and publicly financed
primary education (Article 57).
2004, the government adopted a Strategy for the Education of Roma. The
Strategy is a significant step in identifying the main obstacles to the
integration of Romani children and a number of important measures aimed at
improving access to education for Roma. However, it has not been followed
by a detailed action plan translating it into policy.
Exclusion from primary and pre-school education
children are reported to be enrolled in 40 nursery schools throughout Slovenia.
However, the majority of Romani children do not have access to pre-school
30 per cent of Romani children who reach school age are estimated as
having a very limited command of Slovene.
rate of school attendance differs, while in Prekmurje
70 per cent of Romani pupils are reported to attend school regularly, in Dolenjska region the corresponding figure is 39 per
children attending school frequently do not complete all nine years of
compulsory elementary education.
Main barriers in access to education
and discrimination Romani children are over-represented in schools for
children with special needs or segregated in “Roma only” classes and
groups. Negative stereotyping by teachers results in low expectations of
Romani children and other discriminatory attitudes.
distances between settlements and schools, overcrowded and cold houses,
poor sanitary conditions in the settlements, lack of adequate clothing and
insufficient financial resources to meet costs associated with education
continue to deny children the full advantages of education.
barriers and lack of multicultural curricula. Failure to include Romani
language, culture and traditions in school curricula.
access to pre-school education and lack of Romani teaching assistants;
- Lack of
training for teachers and Romani assistants.
In March 2005, after protests by parents of non-Romani children at the numbers
of Romani pupils attending the Bršljin elementary
school in Novo Mesto, the Slovenian Ministry of
Education and Sport decided to create special separated classes at the school
in certain subjects for Romani children only. Following appeals by parents of
Romani pupils and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Amnesty
International, the Minister of Education retracted his initial proposal and
reportedly suggested that different classes could be created on the basis of
the pupils’ knowledge and performance in school. Separate groups in three
subjects – Slovene, foreign languages and mathematics – are formed for pupils
who do not perform sufficiently well. These special groups are intended to
provide further help to pupils who experience difficulties in the three
subjects and, at least in theory, would allow pupils to return to the
mainstream groups after a “catching-up” period. Teachers in Bršljin
admit that such groups are composed mostly, and in some cases only, of Romani
pupils. Such a model has been criticized in Slovenia for being in effect a
continuation of the old segregation approach. In a report published in 2006,
the Council of Europe expressed concern that the Bršljin
model was a step back from the already achieved levels of integration and
recommended that its implementation should be revised, in consultation with
experts on education and Romani representatives.The Bršljin model is currently being evaluated by the Slovenian
education authorities and a decision on its further implementation, including
in other Slovenian schools, will be made when such evaluation is completed.
This is expected to happen in January 2007.
Recommendations to the Slovenian authorities include to:
that the implementation of the so-called “Bršljin
model” does not result in the effective segregation of Romani pupils in
special “Roma only” primary school groups or classes..
that, in those cases where this is not happening, children from low-income
Romani families are provided with assistance in order to overcome barriers
in access to education originating from their poor socio-economic status.
steps to ensure that Romani culture, history and traditions are included
in school curricula in all areas or schools with a significant Romani
steps to ensure that Romani children have access to pre-school programmes of a sufficient duration, which should incorporate
Romani culture, history, traditions and language, as well as Slovene
steps to ensure that Romani assistants and mediators are employed in a
systematic and comprehensive way in all schools and pre-schools with a
significant Romani population.
steps to ensure that teachers and other staff
working in schools, especially where they work with significant numbers of
Romani pupils, receive training on Romani culture, history, traditions and
language, with the involvement and cooperation of Romani organizations.
pedagogical and other relevant training to Romani assistants and
mediators, with a view to ensuring their full and meaningful participation
in the teaching process.
AI Index: EUR 68/002/2006
16 November 2006