Last month we marked the ninth anniversary of the victorious “D.H.” judgment at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, in which 18 Romani people from Ostrava who had been unjustifiably reassigned to what were then called “special schools” saw justice done and defended their right to a quality education. I would like to share a story with you about why it is important for all children to have equal access to education.
My dear friend of many years, Bedřich, did not have the kind of good luck that I did. As a child, he was more lively than others during lower primary school, so the teacher invited his parents to school and convinced them that “special school” would be the best solution for their son.
Bedřich had no disabilities – he was a healthy child. His parents had attended “special school” under the previous regime, and they were not at all aware of the gravity of their decision, which closed the gates on a succesful life for their son.
Today Bedřich is 28, he has two children, and he is a very efficient person with excellent communications and organizational capabilities, good critical thinking skills, and fluent knowledge of three languages. Despite those qualities, he cannot find employment, I dare say because he is a Romani man in the Czech Republic, and unfortunately also a graduate of “special school”.