Council of Europe's INSCHOOL project promotes inclusion in schools throughout the Czech Republic
If anything has shaken up the education system in the Czech Republic in recent years, it has without a doubt been the introduction of inclusive education, but even though the overall philosophy of inclusive education is slowly developing and gaining acceptance among an ever-growing number of educators, school administrators, pupils and their guardians/parents here, inclusion per se has yet to be fully successfully implemented. However, it would certainly be a great error to believe that the inclusive education process is one that could be set up as something universal, i.e., that it could be introduced into the schools according to a unified scenario involving identical processes in each school.
The inclusive education perspective certainly does not match the already-existing template for education that is being applied here. That educational vision, which continues to be rooted in many people's minds, is one whereby all pupils are "the same" and are therefore meant to be offered "the same" approach to education.
If we were to continue with the existing approach, we would be denying the very essence of the fact that each pupil is an individual with specific traits, and that therefore the path toward their inclusion into education must be an individual, specific one. We frequently hear people describe this concept as unfeasible and utopian.
We are, however, certainly able to find examples of brave educators and schools here that have concentrated on introducing inclusion into practice instead of just abstractly criticizing the idea. Each of them have arrived at their own convictions about an inclusive approach by taking their own different paths, but what they all have in common is the will to provide as much of a chance as possible for all children to equally access a quality education.
Support for creating a genuinely inclusive school culture, however, requires leadership and managerial abilities, especially among the men and women who are school principals. Nobody is born with such capabilities, but they can be mastered, and this has been the case of the schools involved in the INSCHOOL project, which is being implemented not just in the Czech Republic, but also in other European countries.
Thanks to this project, educators, guardians/parents and pupils have not just successfully transformed their approach to inclusive education, but teachers have cultivated their skills for working with children inclusively both inside and outside the classroom. However, it is not just the employees of the schools and the pupils attending them who play an integral role in promoting inclusive education, but also the pupils' guardians/parents, who always play a very important role in the reputation of any school and thus in its fate.
For that reason, the INSCHOOL project does not just concentrate on pupils or on school staff, but also involves the caregivers, guardians and parents of the children enrolled. The idea of an inclusive education is also not just that pupils who are Romani will now have a positive experience at school, but that all the pupils in a school will look forward to their time there together.
Each school must create conditions for every single one of their pupils to thrive. Unfortunately, many schools are unable to create such an environment, which leads to guardians/parents enrolling their children elsewhere.
Thanks to the INSCHOOL project, emphasis has been placed in five selected schools (in Bruntál, Morkovice–Slížany, Poběžovice, Prague and Teplice) not just on comprehending the philosophy of inclusive education, but also especially on creating school communities who actually have a shared sense of the purpose and the values such an education entails. For that reason, positive, significant changes in the perception of what inclusive education entails have been achieved not just among school staffs, but also among guardians/parents and pupils, and that is the basic prerequisite for the successful achievement of an education that is not only delivered in a way that is just, but also in a way that is fair and high-quality, which is one of the INSCHOOL project's aims, and we will continue to update the public about the project's upcoming activities.
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- Czech activist on 8 April: the Romani position in society is deteriorating, zero results from the financing invested
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- EU Commissioners on 8 April: Europe has a long way to go to achieve real equality for Romani people
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