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Czech foundation says tabloid is bolstering media hysteria about school reforms

23.2.2016 18:15
In 2016 the Czech tabloid daily Blesk launched a media campaign against inclusive education. Editor Radek Lain is pictured here. The front cover of the 21 February 2016 issue of Blesk reads
In 2016 the Czech tabloid daily Blesk launched a media campaign against inclusive education. Editor Radek Lain is pictured here. The front cover of the 21 February 2016 issue of Blesk reads "STOP HARMFUL INCLUSION". (PHOTO: Blesk.cz)

According to a survey performed for the tabloid daily Blesk in the Czech Republic by the SANEP agency, a large proportion of people are concerned about and disagree with upcoming changes that mean children with special educational needs will be educated together with other children in the same schools. According to Blesk, more than 90 % of a representative sample of more than 2 000 people believe the change will worsen the level of education in the country, while less than 10 % believe it will improve education.

Previous surveys, however, have demonstrated public support for educating pupils with special educational needs in mainstream schools. The Open Society Fund Prague has expressed objections to the survey published by Blesk.

"That survey was commissioned by the daily after it published a series of articles that untruthfully reported on changes to the schools scheduled to take place as of 1 September 2016. Blesk is just bolstering the current media hysteria that prevails about the new system of educational support measures," the foundation's press release says.

The foundation reminds the public in its press release that as of 1 September, children with special educational needs will be entitled to access educational support measures in the mainstream schools free of charge. "Reports have been frequently disseminated claiming that these changes mean parents' ability to choose their children's schools will be disrupted or that the special schools will be closed, but those reports are not true. The amendment introducing support measures was approved in the spring of 2015 by Parliament and signed by the President. It is supposed to address what is today an unacceptable state of affairs whereby children with special educational needs and schools do not get enough support. Inclusive education is not just about children with mental disabilities, but about the children of foreign citizens, pupils of other ethniciites, or children coming from socially disadvantaged environments," the foundation's press release says.

"The concerns of the public over educating children together have been caused more by the negative campaign waged against this change and the large amount of misinformation disseminated about it than by the actual changes to the Schools Act. This survey just reflects the degree to which that campaign has been successful, because in previous polls more than half of the public expressed support for inclusive education," said Robert Basch, Executive Director of Open Society Fund Prague.

According to a previous survey performed by the IPSOS agency for the Czech Professional Society for Inclusive Education, 57 % of people in the Czech Republic support educating children together and 61 % believe it could be a benefit. Another survey conducted by CVVM in September 2014 also showed support for educating pupils with special educational needs in mainstream schools.

According to the CVVM survey, 78 % of people in the Czech Republic support educating foreign citizens together with Czech citizens, 73 % support educating children with physical disabilities together with non-disabled children, and 59 % support educating Romani children together with non-Romani children. "The SANEP survey is mixing together several different groups of pupils for which the CVVM survey found different results," states the press release of Open Society Fund Prague.  

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Kampaň, Média, Open Society Fund Praha, Vzdělávání



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