Sunday, November 06, 2005


I came across this appalling story today. Abuse of children, calls for segregation. Just when you thought it couldn't get much worse for Roma communities. The international Helsinki Federation for Human Rights is urging for action in the case of two schools in Aspropyrgos after parents pressure authorities to exclude Roma children from school. These children are having to be escorted to school by the police "to protect them from angry mobs shouting racist slogans, threatening, insulting and pushing Roma children and their escorts so as to hinder them from going to their schools" They are also campaigning against segregated schooling that the anti-Roma local authorities and parents are seeking. Read the full open letter here

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At 11/06/2005 05:39:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Oh my God - segregation along racial, or ethnic, lines? How backwards is this?

And it does read rather badly for the police. Bias and harrassment seem appropriate words.

At 11/06/2005 11:16:00 PM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

Absolutely disgusting. So Aspropyrgos residents don't want the Roma because they come from low income household and aren't as educated as the 'fine' Aspropyrgos residents are? Well, let's see how they'd feel if Kifissia or Glyfada residents tried to keep Aspropyrgos kids from attending their municipal schools...being as Aspropyrgos itself, isn't known for its academic excellence or high standard of living. Hypocrites. Each and every one of them. Denying children the right to an education. What nerve.

At 11/07/2005 11:07:00 PM, Anonymous zorkmidden said...

devious diva, thank you for bringing this issue up. I just linked to your post.

At 11/07/2005 11:58:00 PM, Blogger FLUX said...

One tiny step forward, one gigantic leap back into the dark ages for mankind. What can you say? The news just gets worse everyday. This is a matter for the state to deal with and swiftly. If for no other reason, then at least to save face. Words don't suffice to describe how disgusting this is. Mind you, it's nothing new. The history of this kind of abuse stretches so far back, that short of an apocalyptically large historical enema our species cannot purge itself of this kind of injustice.

At 11/08/2005 05:56:00 AM, Anonymous uneducated said...

Please let me add a few points.

I've read Aspropyrgos' local newspaper and watched a TV show (Mega Channel) hosting protesting parents. I personally live in the suburbs of Athens, so all the suburbian regions are quite similar in that ways.

It was clearly stated that parents are protesting against the lack of hygiene of the Roma kids. Health issues emerged. It is not that they do not like the Roma kids joining the school. These particular Roma kids have certainly not been vaccinated and their ages are way above the average (i.e there are kids aged 15 that want to join classes of 7year-olds). Roma kids also live in huts without water or electricity supplies. They are not provided with electricity or water as they cannot be granted such supplies. This happens as they occupy (usually) territories illegally (that belong to other people).

Greek educational system has designed classes for such (Roma and older than average) kids but they are NOT implemented due to lack of funds and due to the inability of the Local Education Authority that Aspropyrgos belongs to handle such issues (nothing has been done). Parents seem to fight for their children. I also did not read/hear anything about racist slogans or mobs.

I completely comprehend your views and comments but a holistic approach should be made by all of us when concerning issues.

"The seawitch" commends that Aspropyrgos is not known for its academic excellence. To be more precise, Aspropyrgos' upper-secondary education kids have scored quite high scores in university placement exams recently, when compared to other suburbs of Athens. "Seawitch" continues "if Kifissia or Glyfada residents tried to keep Aspropyrgos kids from attending their municipal schools"... Please do think the answer to a very similar question: What if Roma were living very close to Kifissia or Glyfada (posh suburbs of Athens)? Would Roma kids be accepted in public schools in such areas?

It is a very important issue as Roma and minorities' rights need to be implemented right now. Probably they must settle legally in a certain place. Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs should act immediately since we are reaching the end of the first academic term.

Very nice blog! Keep up!

At 11/08/2005 07:44:00 PM, Blogger melusina said...

Nice additional info uneducated, things about the issue I didn't know.

Now, I do understand the concerns about health issues, immunizations, hygiene, what have you, but those things should perhaps be taken care of by the state. They can be dealt with easily enough.

The 15 year olds with the 7 year olds, or whatever the case may be, is not right. I have too many friends who are teachers who constantly talk about problems in the classroom, and kids who are "held back" that are as little as 2 years older than the regular students can cause problems with both the standard age children and the older child.

This is just another issue that seems to get swept under the carpet by the Greek administration. Some things I can tolerate, but when it comes to education - and Greece has had some extreme problems this year - something needs to be done.

I don't doubt that it takes a lot for Roma families to send their children to school in the first place, they shouldn't be discouraged from attending or not given a fair chance. But the educational system needs to be up to the task - and educating a 15 year old who is on a 7 year old level takes a special sort of teaching.

At 11/08/2005 09:26:00 PM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

I've seen and heard the parents literally screeching their displeasure over Roma attending schools. I don't buy their excuses. If they were only concerned about health issues and the ages of the kids in the classrooms, why weren't they demanding that the Education Ministry rectify those specific problems? No, what those parents were shouting was to rid the schools of the "dirty" gypsies.

At 11/08/2005 11:05:00 PM, Anonymous uneducated said...

How can you be so sure that these parents were shouting for getting rid of the Roma kids?

I think that their concerns are health and proper pedagogy issues. As I wrote earlier, parents want their schools to host the classes needed. Bureaucracy and Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs' inadequecy of funds are not really helping to solve the problem. "Welcoming/Reception classes" are not held. They have not been improvised at a proper percentage in order to meet the needs of that particular group of kids. It is not a matter of dirt, it is a matter of fairness as it seems.

I do not support any child's exclusion. I do not support inefficient education systems or people managing education in social areas that are not aware of either.

I personally attended classes, while at primary school, having Roma classmates and immigrant classmates (coming from Turkey, Albania or exUSSR). Reception classes were held and no problems occured. It was so easy to manage the problem. What about now?

At 11/09/2005 03:11:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

From what I understand, the health issue seems to be used as an excuse to exclude the children. If it was about vaccinations, surely that is a matter for the ministry of Health, not education? Many greek children are under vaccinated and the Health authorities should perhaps implement an initiative to rectify that.
The Helsinki Federation for Human Rights reports that "angry mobs shouting racist slogans, threatening, insulting and pushing Roma children and their escorts so as to hinder them from going to their schools." There is a link to the whole letter in the post.

By the way, welcome uneducated. Your imput is appreciated.

At 11/09/2005 05:43:00 PM, Anonymous uneducated said...

Hello miss hostess!

You already have noticed how complicated is the issue. Both Ministries of Education and Health are responsible for untangling it.

We can find what is Helsinki Federation for Human Rights saying on your link. What about the opinions of these parents? I am afraid that the report is not describing the reality 100% as many of these shouts could have easily been misunderstood or interpreted the way one wants. Media (a big Greek television network) also presented the parents of that town as racists, since the very first moments without even comprehending the requests!! Media are more important than real life as it seems in Greece, as parents were the ones to publicize the situation through the media!! Do you think they would ask for publicity of the issue if they were afraid of being accused of racial discrimination?!

So big issue, so important for all of us, especially us living in Greece or in the suburbs of Athens more specifically. What has been done for that during the past years? What is being done now? Are there any possible outcomes?

It is easier to blame rather than to act. I witnessed the inability and unwillingness of Local Education Authorities responsible to manage such issues. Who is responsible for that? Generally governments do not really care for that part of Athens' suburbs (i.e Western suburbs of Athens).

PS: Please note that similar issues may emerge /have emerged in other places/suburbs/towns of the world/ Athens/ Greece without becoming so "famous".

C u out there in Athens! Keep up (once again!) ;-)

At 11/09/2005 08:13:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Yes, I completely understand the role the media plays in distorting facts in issues like these. However, I am concerned that children need a police escort to get to school because the parents anger is directed at them and not at the proper authorities. I do believe there is racism at the root. We have all heard how people refer to the Roma here and everywhere. It seems to me, they are probably the least accepted group in Europe and much less is being done to integrate, educate and support them. And you are absolutely right. Some neighbourhoods are more worthy in the eyes of the state.

What is being done? I don't think anything would be done if the ministries were not being pressured by certain "watchdogs". I know there are individuals and groups lobbying the government to make changes. They are trying to raise awareness on these issues. If the public don't know what is happening, they cannot object or press for change. I think we should always question media reporting but we should also acknowledge that us ordinary folk learn about these issues because of the media.

At 11/15/2005 03:38:00 AM, Anonymous uneducated said...

Hello once again and sorry for the delay. I've been quite busy during the past few days.

I came accross three local newspapers during these days. I'd like to quote a couple of things:
Concerning that school's issue:"Parents are only worried for children's health" (Roma people proved to be living beside the city's scrap heaps (!!))

Group of parents: "Local newspaper asked the Helsinki Federation to examine our case, without asking us to present our view on the issue"

"Not legally settled Roma population is one of the biggest problems of several municipalities".

What is going on here?

Did the local paper denounce the issue to Helsinki Federation without a second thought? Was it an over-reaction or the truth? Why didn't the newspaper host the parents' thoughts as well? It is not a huge city/society you see... Why was that avoided?

I shall conclude once again...

Greek government (not the municipalities) needs to buy a specific place in which public and social services, schools, hospitals, normal houses (not huts), electricity and water mains should be built/installed. No plans have been made yet (!!!!). The only plans that are known is expanding the tram railways till Nothern suburbs and subway network till other rich neighborhoods (that's what I call hypocrisy Mrs Seawitch).

Parents should not be accused of, without knowing the truth for each incident in advance. It is through the media that we become aware of such issues, but are we informed about the truth?

"Watchdogs" are very useful! Unless they don't bite innocents! Kids especially!!


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