Fact Check: Computers Provided To Roma Community Schoolchildren Are NOT Being Sold To Pawnshops

Overovanie Faktov

  • podľa: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Computers Provided To Roma Community Schoolchildren Are NOT Being Sold To Pawnshops Fact Check: Computers Provided To Roma Community Schoolchildren Are NOT Being Sold To Pawnshops Racism

Are laptops and tablets provided to schoolchildren from the marginalized Roma community during the COVID-19 pandemic ending up in pawnshops instead of helping students with online studies? No, that's not true: The former minister of investment in charge of the project to get computers into students' hands called the accusation a hoax, saying that of the 30,000 pupils who received grants to buy laptops, less than 10 of the computers had ended up in pawnshops.

The claim appeared in a video on TikTok (archived here) by @markoreddie on August 3, 2023, with the title (translated from Slovak into English by Lead Stories staff):

⛔ VERONIKA GAVE AWAY tablets and laptops! ⚠️ PAWSHOPS have started to receive goods

In the video, far-right political candidate Milan Mazurek says (translated from Slovak into English by Lead Stories staff):

Some of our fellow settlers (Roma community members) gave the tablets obtained free of charge from the state to pawnshops. Whoever is surprised by this must have been naive. I've already talked about it when Veronika Remišová came up with the idea of distributing computers and tablets to the settlements (Roma communities).

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-08-30 at 10.31.26 AM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Aug 23 9:30:42 2023 CET)

Mazurek blames the former Slovak government administration for what he claims is a rise in crime committed by Roma people, and he has in the past criticized the government for assistance to members of the marginalized community.

During the COVID pandemic, a project called Digitalny ziak allowed the Ministry of Investments, Regional Development and Informatization to help schoolchildren who didn't have access to online education due to being too poor to buy laptops and tablets. Veronika Remišová, the leader of the project and former minister of innovations, said government grants would help children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds buy the necessary equipment so that they could participate in classes remotely.

Even though reports claimed that some of the laptops and tablets ended up in pawnshops, Remišová called the claim that computers given to Roma students were being sold to pawnshops a "hoax," writing on her Facebook page (translated from Slovak into English by Lead Stories staff):

There are out of 30,000 pupils who have already received a grant and only a few individuals, less than ten, have deposited their digital devices to the pawnshops

In 2019, Mazurek was legally condemned by the Supreme Court for racist statements about the Roma community. He lost his parliamentary seat and had to pay a fine of 10,000 euros.

The political party he represents, Republika, posted during the pre-election campaign what many consider a far-right position on the Roma community, critical of what they claim (translated from Slovak into English by Lead Stories staff) is a:

failure to solve the problem of the criminality of the settlers [Roma communities] and their integration. As a solution, we promote the introduction of merit in the social system and zero tolerance of crime, which will force even these citizens to work rather than live on allowances and social benefits.

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