Alana Telesford Explores Educational Inequity within the Czech Republic
Alana Telesford is a graduate student of Lehigh University working with the Campaign for Social Inclusion to promote inclusion of the Roma people. Telesford is residing in the Czech Republic from 5 June 2017 to 29 July 2017 to research inequalities within the education system.
Her research will be combined with the research of three other American students and organized into a story map that will be presented to the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic at the end of July 2017. In her research, Telesford has noticed that data collection on ethnicity is limited within the Czech Republic, which makes it challenging to assess how many Roma students are being served in formal schools.
She has found legal initiatives that aim to alleviate inequities, but the effects of the policies are infrequently observed in practice. This observation was also noted by the Amnesty International submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review upcoming in November.
The document states, “In November 2016, the Ministry of Education published data indicating that 30.9% of pupils enrolled in the educational programmes for pupils with mild mental disabilities were Roma.” Telesford has also expressed interest in the cultural clash between formal schooling and traditional Roma values, which traditionally place high regard on community rather than individual pursuits.
She said, “Ultimately, not many people are asking the Roma what they want. Do they want to be integrated into mainstream society? Do they want to have Roma-specific schools so long as the children are learning what is necessary to contribute meaningfully to society? The Roma are often left out of these conversations about them.”
These are important issues that Telesford will continue to research during her time in the Czech Republic. She is in the School of Psychology and is extremely passionate about social justice issues as they relate to children’s learning and development.
According to Telesford, “these issues aren’t unique to the Czech Republic, or Eastern Europe. We see it at home [in the United States] too.”
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