Date of Defense

Spring 4-19-2011

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Jim Butterfield, Political Science

Second Advisor

Gunther M. Hega, Political Science

Third Advisor

Jacinda Swanson, Political Science

Abstract

The Romani population, (pejoratively referred to as Gypsies) in the very homogeneous nation of the Czech Republic, is estimated to range from 160,000 to 300,000 people, representing about two to three percent of the country’s entire population. Despite being one of the largest ethnic minorities in the Czech Republic, Czech-Roma face enormous barriers in all facets of life including: wide-spread discrimination, racist violence perpetrated against them, exclusion in housing and the labor market, and they often receive a segregated and inferior education. Democratization has created significant challenges for Romani citizens, who were traditionally artisans, leaving them ill-equipped to compete in today’s skill-driven labor market. Various NGOs and International Organizations, most especially the European Union, have focused on increasing the educational outcomes of Romani children as the cornerstone for improving their social condition in Europe and in the Czech Republic. This paper will attempt to assess the impact of the Czech Republic’s EU Member Status on improving Romani Children’s ability to access an equal quality education in the Czech Republic. Chapter I explores the historical legacies that have created the factors which drive the social exclusion experienced by many Czech-Roma today. Chapter II defines the current problem of unequal access to education in the Czech educational system and the structures that are in place, which perpetuate the status quo. Chapter III examines interventions by the EU and other actors on behalf of Romani social integration efforts. Chapter IV assesses the current status of educational reforms that allow for Romani inclusion.

The Conclusion assesses the effectiveness of these concerted efforts. The evidence suggests that despite the EU’s success in requiring the CR to adopt minority protections and discrimination legislation, so far, however, EU pressure has fallen short on improving Romani children’s access to obtaining an equal quality education in the Czech Republic.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only

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