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Czech Education Ministry says inclusion will cost more than one billion crowns per year

11.8.2015 20:52
Kateřina Valachová  became the Czech Education Minister in 2015. (PHOTO: www.osf.cz)
Kateřina Valachová became the Czech Education Minister in 2015. (PHOTO: www.osf.cz)

The recently approved amendment to the Schools Act that is meant to improve conditions for including disadvantaged children in mainstream schools could mean additional demands on the state budget in excess of one billion crowns in 2017 and 1.5 billion in 2018, according to Czech Education Ministry estimates. The ministry has now published online its Action Plan for Inclusive Education for 2016-2018.

Schools must follow the new rules as of 1 September 2016. The costs for the rest of the next calendar year were previously calculated at CZK 410 million.  

Czech Education Minister Kateřina Valachová already has those costs promised for next year's budget. More than CZK 318 million of that amount is designated for teaching assistants, the number of which must increase.  

In years to come the demands on the state budget will be specified every May for the following year. In addition to funding from the state, inclusive measures will also be financed by EU subsidies.  

A total of CZK 2.03 billion is being counted on in Operational Programme Research, Development and Education (OP VVV) for such purposes. The adopted amendment changes the approach taken toward pupils with special educational needs, whether determined by medical disability or social disadvantage.  

The main outcome of a special needs diagnosis will be the designation of support measures to aid the education of these children in the mainstream. Pupils have a legal entitlement to the provision of these measures, which include different instructional approaches, special equipment or teaching assistants.

Implementing regulations will be essential to the application of the regulation in practice. A draft of the decree promulgating those regulations should be sent to the European Commission by the end of August, which has been following inclusion in the Czech Republic in particular from the perspective of the Romani minority's access to education.

That decree should be definitely approved by the end of 2015. Another current task, according to materials approved by the Government at the end of July, is abolishing the reduced curriculum for pupils with "mild mental retardation", the so-called LMP Appendix to the Framework Program for Primary Education.

Currently pupils may be taught according to this Appendix both at the "practical primary schools"  (previously the "special schools") and at mainstream schools when integrating children with "mild mental disability". Abolishing the Appendix is a measure to combat the discrimination of Romani children in the Czech education system.

For successful inclusion it is also essential to increase the quality of the services provided by schools' counseling facilities, i.e., the educational-psychological counseling centers and special education centers. Their diagnostic procedures must be unified, primarily those used to assess socially disadvantaged pupils, and support must be provided directly to pupils integrated into mainstream schools by hiring more school psychologists and special educators.   

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Discrimination, Education, Inkluzivní vzdělávání, European Commission



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