France ‘excludes’ Roma children from schools

The Telegraph is reporting that more than half of Roma children living in France are not in school and local authorities are deliberately blocking their enrolment, according to the European Roma Rights Centre…

The Centre, a non-governmental organisation based in Hungary, accused local authorities of failing to fulfil their legal obligation to provide schooling for the children of Roma migrants.

“The refusal to enrol children in school is a direct violation of the national and international obligations of France,” the organisation said in a report released this week and based on investigations carried out in Roma camps around the northern city of Lille, Paris and Marseille, in the south.

The researchers said they had interviewed 118 Roma, most of whom migrated to France from Romania after the country joined the European Union in 2007.

Officials deny there is a policy to exclude Roma children, but the report claimed local authorities and mayors were preventing Roma children from going to school by delaying their applications, although it is compulsory for all children aged between 6 and 16 to attend school in France.

Erika Bodor, a researcher who led the study, said: “They sometimes ask for documents that should not be required, like proof of address or vaccination certificates. Under French law, there’s only one document that is required, and that’s the identity card. They also fail to respond to applications for enrolment and let them sit there gathering dust,” Ms Bodor said.

“Maybe if a mother is begging with her daughter on the street, it’s because the mayor has refused to enrol the child in school.” Ms Bodor said.

The report said the estimated 20,000 Roma in France “are exposed to high levels of discrimination and stereotyping resulting in the violations of their rights”…

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