Gypsy School and Village

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Europe » Slovakia
June 18th 2008
Published: June 18th 2008
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Biology ClassBiology ClassBiology Class

This classroom was learning about the biology of evergreen tree species.
Today I had one of the more interesting experiences I have ever had. Syvlia's aunt is a teacher at a special school in Slovakia. While these schools were originally intended for students with learning difficulties, they quickly became schools in which Roma (gypsy) children were placed. The principal of the school agreed earlier this spring to give me a tour and talk to me about the school when I came this summer. We toured through the school which has an enrollment of 400 students. Of those 400, 389 are gypsies. Many of the children live in horrible conditions and attend the school irregularly. Many are often quite dirty and don't have adequate clothing. Some are always hungry. Sylvia's aunt told me that one of her children will eat everything he is given, including anything the other students leave behind. If he is given a bannana, he will eat the entire thing, including the peel.
The principal is very proud of her accomplishments in the school. Earlier in the year, the school was visited by the Deputy Premier of Slovakia who gave her a letter of commendation for her work, which she was proud to show me. She was also proud that
Roma GirlRoma GirlRoma Girl

This was a girl the principal selected from the biology class to recite a poem for us. She had won some awards for her recitation.
her school did not smell, which is common in gypsy schools because of the condition of the children. Often the schools will have a strong smell of chlorine because they are constantly disinfected. She even asked me to smell her as proof that the school smelled normal.
After the school visit and some lunch, we met up with Sylvia's aunt who took us into the gypsy village, which is outside of Jasov, the town in which the school is located. She met with several of her student's mothers to talk with them about the childrens' progress. We encountered many of her students in the village who had not been in class that day. Fewer than half her students had been in attendance. The village was in bad condition and it is difficult to comprehend how they are able to live in such fashion. It was a strange experience to drive through the well-developed town and then walk straight into what are literally third-world conditions. I won't forget this experience.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11



This is Sylvia's Aunt and her class of pre-kindergarten students. They call it grade 0. They are not necessarily pre-kidergarten age, but are placed in the class becuase the speak limited Slovak.
Young RomaYoung Roma
Young Roma

This guy was really funny. Unfortunately, he was one of the poorest of the Roma children...which is really saying something.
Roma GirlsRoma Girls
Roma Girls

The two girls were good friends.

The Roma students spent recess playing soccer and jumping rope.
Sylvia's FriendsSylvia's Friends
Sylvia's Friends

Sylvia made friends with several of the girls.
Gypsy VillageGypsy Village
Gypsy Village

Sylvia's aunt visited some of the student's parents in their village as a reason for us to go to the village so I could see the conditions. You can see what they are.
Gypsy VillageGypsy Village
Gypsy Village

Young Gypsies were very excited to have their picture taken. Many had never had never had this experience before.
Me in the VillageMe in the Village
Me in the Village

Me with some of children from the village.
Gypsy VillageGypsy Village
Gypsy Village

This is typical of a gypsy village in Eastern Slovakia. The buildings in the foreground are houses.

29th June 2008

BRETT the photos are beautiful and your experience at the school was incredibly interesting to read. the children in the photos remind me so much of the kids i worked with in Georgia, especially the part about how they all went positively nuts when you busted out a camera. reading this entry brings a really humanizing perspective on the Roma population and surely this day went above and beyond anything you'd find through pedantic means. ... and geezus, the part about the kid eating banana peels?? are there any relief programs within Europe that support starving "gypsy" children and families who actually value education? probably worth investigating, golly, what a remarkable day this must've been.
14th October 2019

Regarding Roma schools
Hi Brett thanks for the article. I m Varun from India Recently I visited a School Western Europe, the condition is quite similar. Which part of the Slovakia did you visited. Can I get your emsem. I writing one research article regarding this.

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