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Czech Education Minister Dobeš claims to have intensified the inclusion of Roma and other children

Prague, 31.5.2011 2:29, (ROMEA)

The Czech Education Ministry rejects the criticism of the many experts who have stopped collaborating with it and who have left the Working Group designing the fulfillment of the National Action Plan for Inclusive Education (Národní akční plán inkluzívního vzdělávání - NAPIV). News server Romea.cz publishes the ministry's press release in full:

The criticism of the Czech Education Ministry made during the departure of experts from NAPIV is groundless. The ministry has recently taken clear, concrete steps in the area of assigning all disadvantaged children into mainstream education.

"I see no reason for these people to leave NAPIV, it is completely premature when the implementation of NAPIV has not yet begun," said Renata Ježková, director of the special education department. Under Ms Ježková's management, key decrees responding to the 2007 judgment of the European Court for Human Rights against the Czech Republic have been completed.

A government resolution dated 15 March 2010 divided the implementation of inclusion into two phases, the "NAPIV design phase" 2010 – 2013, and the "NAPIV" itself, which will depend on the completion of the design phase. "In March 2010, 108 people were named to expert working teams for NAPIV implementation, which will not begin until the start of 2014. Even though their competencies had yet to be clearly defined, the ministry decided to include them in the design phase, which is meant to map the terrain and propose solutions for implementing NAPIV itself. I consider their departure from something which actually does not even exist yet to be premature, and their criticism of the ministry groundless," Ježková said.

"I must reject the claim that we are ignoring the discrimination of Roma people and otherwise disadvantaged children. During my time in office, I have very much intensified inclusion, and it must be said that I have intensified the inclusion of all children, not just Roma children, as the 2007 Strasbourg judgment tasks us to do, but all disadvantaged children into mainstream education. We completed work on decrees that address, for example, the activity of the educational-psychological counseling centers, we have strengthened the awareness of those using those services, we have instituted the activity of teaching assistants, assigned socially disadvantaged children into preparatory classes, and taken many other measures. I sense steps being taken by former Education Minister Liška behind the criticism of my leadership of the ministry and of NAPIV. My ministry is taking clear, concrete steps for inclusion. I believe this is a targeted media campaign. However, our concrete actions will speak for us, not a campaign," Czech Education Minister Dobeš said.

An overview of the steps taken by Minister Dobeš in the area of inclusion:

Decree No. 72/2005, on the provision of counseling services in schools and school counseling facilities:

1. This decree offers the possibility for greater awareness among the clients of counseling services regarding the content of the center's recommendations and their other options as part of their examination;

2. Clients may use the newly-introduced "institution of reservations" to the recommendations - for example, they may express their disagreement with the counseling center's recommendations;

3. Information about the counseling services must be provide to clients clearly and intelligibly;

4. Time limits are instituted – the counseling service must be initiated within three months of its recommendation, and within one month of its completion a report must be issued on the service;

5. In addition to ordinary pupils, medically and socially disadvantaged pupils will be newly permitted to visit the counseling centers, where the necessary expert aid will be provided them;

6. These amendments to the decree have been published in the Collection of Laws and will take effect as of 1 September 2011.

The amendments to Decree No. 73/2005, on the education of children, pupils and students with special educational needs and the exceptionally gifted, are:

1. In addition to medically disabled pupils, the decree newly addresses conditions for educating children, pupils and students who are medically and socially disadvantaged;

2. The decree bans the education of children who are not mentally disabled according to education programs designed for pupils who are disabled;

3. The circle of activities of teaching assistants is being expanded for pupils with severe medical disability to include assistance with movement and self-service;

4. The term "medium-severe mental disability" is being added (left out of the original decree on accident);

5. The composition of the teams of educational workers in classrooms for pupils with severe medical disability are further specified (there can be three such workers, of which at least one must be a teaching assistant);

6. These amendments to this decree will be published in the Collection of Laws and will take effect as of 1 September 2011.

Amendment to Decree No. 74/2005, on special-interest education:

1. This will make it possible to provide special-interest education in school nurseries and school clubs to children from elementary school preparatory classes and the preparatory level of special elementary schools (i.e., greater interest is anticipated in the enrollment of socially disadvantaged children into preparatory classes where they will be provided with preparation for entry into mainstream education);

2. At the same time, Decree No. 492/2005 Coll., on regional norms, is amended with the addition of a new performance unit corresponding to the expansion of possible participants in special-interest education in school nurseries;

3. These amendments to this decree will be published in the Collection of Laws and will take effect as of 1 September 2011.

An amendment to Law No. 109/2002, on the performance of institutional education or protective custody at school facilities and on preventive educational care at school facilities:

1. This amendment is based on emphasizing preventive (specifically, preventive-educational) care;

2. It strengthens the activity and role of the centers by defining them as school counseling facilities;

3. It specifies the competencies of the facilities for preventive-educational care (preventive care) and institutional and protective custody;

4. This law is ready for discussion by the ministry leadership.

Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Czech Education Ministry, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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