Essay by pehar April 2004

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Re:"Bulgaria Opens School Doors for Gypsy Children", by John Tagliabue, June 13, 2001

Dear Editor,

We have read your article "Bulgaria Opens School Doors for Gypsy Children", which reports on the need of desegregation in schools.

On the one hand, your article gives us an overview of many positive aspects that can be achieved if Gypsy children get integrated into schools. On the other hand, the disadvantages and difficulties of integration are described in your article as well.

We are of the opinion that the attempt to integrate Gypsy children has not been easy and also will not be easy.

Initiatives taking place in Bulgaria are just one example of segregation within a broader global debate on education. In the case of the Roma, a people who have been marginalized and discriminated against for centuries are slowly gaining rights within a dominating culture. The inclusion of Gypsy children in Bulgarian schools is very difficult because of protesting parents of non-Gypsy children who still have got prejudices.

It is a real problem for these very young Gypsis not to be accepted and to be treated as outsiders.

In South Africa as well blacks and whites are just starting to attend the same schools together after centuries of racial segregation in all levels of society. In Northern Ireland, Catholic and Protestant children attend separate schools. In many Arab countries, Muslim, Christian and Jewish children usually attend separate schools. Moreover, there are schools especially for girls or boys.

To our opinion, in the field of education the doctrine ´separate but equal` has no place, because separate education supports all ideas of unequality and therefore also discrimination against specific groups. Segregation in education should not exist under any circumstances, because it may affect children`s hearts and minds.

The first...