Why this story matters:
Before 2016, when the concept of three assistants per classrooms was introduced, Czechia, out of all EU members, had the third-highest number children educated outside of mainstream schools. The country was repeatedly criticized by international organizations for the poor education opportunities given to disadvantaged pupils. The situation has since changed for the better, but a new proposal from the Ministry of Education, mandating only one paid assistant per classroom, might return things to their previous unsatisfactory state.
Children with physical health handicaps could also again end up in schools for mentally disabled children. As a result, children in wheelchairs, children with sight and hearing defects or other health handicaps could have a harder time accessing mainstream education.
This could also take Czechia back to the period before 2007, when the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled on behalf of 18 young Roma students from the Ostrava region that the state racially discriminated against them by routinely funneling Roma children into special schools for the mentally disabled.
Details from the story:
- Ex PM and leader of The National Council of Persons with Disabilities, Václav Krásasen, sent a letter to the Minister of Education, Robert Plaga, warning him about possible complications for disabled children with the new Ministry proposal.
- The founder of the Czech Professional Society for Inclusive Education (ČOSIV), ex deputy Education Minister, Klára Laurenčíková, has warned about “dangerous things” in the new amendment that basically destroy inclusive education in the country. The general message that mainstream schools have to be preferred before special schools, has been simply omitted.
- The sentence -- "Pupils without mental health disorders cannot be educated in schools, classrooms or study groups for children with mental disabilities," has been erased from the new proposal.
- Inclusive education in the Czech Republic has had strong critics since the very beginning. The most influential among them is President Miloš Zeman who said that inclusion was unfortunate for the both groups and that “children are far happier when they are in a community with their equals."
- The Ministry of Education has not yet publicly announced the new amendment.