12 Roma Children Expelled from Kotoriba Kindergarten, says MP

ZAGREB, November 13, 2019 – The Roma minority member of parliament, Veljko Kajtazi, said on Wednesday that 12 Roma children had been expelled from a kindergarten in Kotoriba, Međimurje County, calling on all those involved to solve the problem as soon as possible so that children could continue attending kindergarten.

Expelling Roma children, even for a short period of time, will have long-term negative consequences, Kajtazi said at a news conference in the parliament.

The November 5 decision whereby the kindergarten management expelled the Roma children reads that a child stops attending kindergarten if its parents do not pay the kindergarten fee for two consecutive months, with the final deadline for due payments being November 9.

The children were expelled because the Science and Education Ministry was late with payments even though the kindergarten is aware that it will obtain the money, Kajtazi said.

Since 2009 the Science and Education Ministry has been co-funding preschool education and it has been covering the share of the kindergarten fee paid by parents for all members of the Roma minority.

This, along with the financing of the rest of the membership fee from local budgets, has made it possible for kindergarten care for members of the Roma minority to be free, Kajtazi said.

The children were expelled because the kindergarten holds their parents responsible for the payment of the membership fee share that is paid by the ministry, he said.

Kajtazi said that he received information from the ministry on Tuesday saying that it met its obligations regularly and that the request for payment from September was being processed as well as that it would soon pay the 28,000 kuna that it was required to pay.

He said that the ministry paid funds at the kindergarten’s request twice during a school year and that since 2015 almost 113,000 kuna had been paid into the Kotoriba kindergarten’s account.

The MP also said that his office had tried to contact Kotoriba municipality about the problem but was referred to “the kindergarten whose manager is on sick leave.”

More news about the status of Roma in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.