The recently-released second Roma Civil Monitor (RCM) report on the implementation of the Czech Republic’s National Roma Integration Strategy (NRIS) has found that while the NRIS identifies ethnic discrimination as a problem in many areas of Romani life, solutions directly addressing this aspect of inclusion have yet to be implemented. The Government should be encouraged to continue furthering the Strategy especially in this regard. The reports are part of a project that began in 2017 and is funded by the European Commission for the purpose of strengthening the involvement of Roma civil society in the monitoring of these strategies across the EU. The added value of civil society monitoring is that the coalitions of NGOs participating are in touch with Roma communities and represent an independent voice.
Many issues raised by the report as impacting marginalized Roma are also part of larger trends the Czech authorities are attempting to address already. When it comes to Romani under-employment and unemployment, for example, the report highlights how the exorbitant fees that can be imposed by collections agents have created situations where many marginalized people find it makes more financial sense for them to avoid formal employment, as debt recovery systems would deprive them of most of their incomes as currently designed. Improving the options for regaining financial solvency so participation in formal employment can become feasible for such people is a main recommendation of the report.
Many piloted activities exist that could be scaled up into national, permanent programs promoting preventive health care to marginalized Roma. Similarly, guided by the NRIS, the civil society groups encourage the state to exponentially increase the requirements and time spent by medical students to train in communication with patients, especially interculturally, and in medical ethics, with a view to improving equal access to health care by Roma community members. The report welcomes the recently-introduced nationwide project on “Support for health in excluded localities – reducing health inequalities” and the community outreach work of Roma health monitors piloted by the NGO sector. The report also describes how Roma communities can be abused by projects that declare their intentions as that of “integration” but are actually discriminatory and intensify Roma social exclusion.
Education is the area where there is both the most data and the most policy developed in an effort to ensure equal access by Romani children. The report notes that many privately-run scholarship opportunities for Romani people are yielding more results in terms of participation in the Czech Republic than are the Government’s own efforts and analyzes how these approaches differ. The civil society groups recommend the Government continue to support recent policy moves promoting inclusion by further financing schools to develop their ability to serve multiethnic communities; by training administrators, educators and paraprofessionals to work with children from diverse backgrounds; and by desegregating education, including through closing those primary schools where Roma children are educated in worse conditions than non-Roma with a low success rate of continuing on to secondary education.