Czech Education Ministry tracking Romani and socially disadvantaged pupils to prevent segregation
As of November, the Czech Education Ministry will be researching how many Romani and socially disadvantaged children are studying in what kind of programs in both the mainstream primary and practical primary schools. The decision is in response to a judgment from the European Court of Human Rights in 2007 which found that the Czech Republic had discriminated against Romani children in education.
Current practice demonstrates that in some schools such children are still segregated away from others. The persistence of the practice has been confirmed by a fresh report by the Czech School Inspection Authority about a primary school in the town of Krásná Lípa.
Inspectors began monitoring the school at the beginning of the school year. Some parents had previously warned that Romani pupils were being segregated into a separate classroom.
The school was told to correct its approach to instruction and to improve the quality of the instruction provided. Despite that communication, Romani pupils there remained separated from everybody else for the remainder of the school year.
Such an approach to education is considered unacceptable by the Education Ministry. In order to be able to report on how and where Romani children are being educated, the ministry will be tracking them.
Qualified estimates as to how many such children there are in the schools, according to Education Ministry spokesperson Jarmila Balážová, will serve to monitor the situation. "This is for us to know whether the numbers of children being educated this way are increasing or not," she said.
The estimates will be undertaken for a fourth time by school principals. According to the criteria specified, the principals will report how many Romani and socially disadvantaged children attend their schools and which programs they are educated in.
Instruction has improved, but guidance counseling doesn't work
Some of the reservations expressed about the Krásná Lípa school in the inspectors' report from February of this year have been corrected by the municipality, which is responsible for establishing the primary school. "We hired a new head teacher for the class that had been criticized. We corrected things and admitted that some minor misconduct had occurred," Mayor Jan Kolář said.
According to Ondřej Andrys, the Deputy Director of School Inspection, the instruction at the school has actually improved in a certain direction. "What is crucial, however, is how the guidance counseling department is set up to work. That is still not succeeding in Krásná Lípa," is his assessment of the current situation.
In addition, inspectors criticized other steps that the school has taken. For example, individual support to pupils is not functioning there and the assessment of their progress is only done collectively.
The inspectors previously proposed that the municipality fire principal Ivana Preyová, but the mayor refused to. According to the inspectors, the following deficiencies persist at the school in Krásná Lípa: Individual pupils are not receiving effective support, pupils are not being asked to assess their own progress, pupils are not using portfolios to show their accumulated work, and pupils of Romani origin are still being educated separately.
"The ministry is very restricted as to what it can do in these cases. It can pressure the school establisher and it can send inspectors to monitor, which it is doing," Balážová said.
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