Czech Pirates criticize Govt report on education of Romani children for not reflecting COVID-19 impact and lack of access to distance learning
Yesterday the Czech Government received the annual "Report on Fulfilling the Measures of the Action Plan for Execution of the Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Matter of D. H. and Others versus the Czech Republic for 2020" from Czech Education Minister Robert Plaga; for 13 years now the Czech Republic has been attempting, unsuccessfully, to fulfill that judgment from the European Court of Human Rights, which found that Romani children do not have the same opportunities to access education as non-Romani children do here. According to the Pirate Party, the report does not at all reflect the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has intensified the already significant differences in access to education, above all with respect to insufficient backup for distance learning, such as an absence of technology or of parental support.
In an open letter to Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the Pirates are demanding the Government rework the document. The report submitted, according to the Pirate Party, does acknowledge there is ongoing segregation of Romani pupils, above all because the system for including pupils into the educational process is poor, as the European Court of Human Rights has indicated.
The judgment has yet to be successfully implemented and a fair approach to educating all children has yet to be arranged, the Pirate Party states on its website. Another reason the Pirates are challenging the Government to rework the document is that it does not at all take the pandemic and the Government measures responding to COVID-19 into account even though they have absolutely, fundamentally influenced education.
"According to experts, the pandemic has had a heavy impact exactly on low-income families, among others, where frequently what was lacking was any kind of background in how to participate in distance learning, whether that has to do with access to technology, such as computers or Internet connections, or whether that has to do with insufficient support from parents," explained Czech MP František Kopřiva (Pirates), who is a delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. "Education in particular is one of the main prerequisites for extricating oneself from the vicious circle of poverty and exclusion."
"If the state does not arrange good education for children, it deprives them of the chance at a better future," the MP said. His fellow party member seated at the European Parliament, Mikuláš Peksa, also noted that: "Especially in the structurally afflicted localities, the insufficent support for schools, teachers, and social services is a problem for Romani children who are already disadvantaged."
"To send a report that does not respond to the basic deterioration of conditions in reality and to the failure of the Czech state to support distance learning just means delaying solutions and is in direct contradiction of both the children's interests and the basic principles of good administration," the MEP said. "If wasted chances aren't convincing enough for you, those who drop out of education also engender clearly measurable impacts."
"For each pupil who does not complete primary school the state loses CZK 15 million [EUR 575 000] in taxes, according to calculations by the Agency for Social Inclusion," Peksa concluded. The Pirates have been warning for several months now of problems with arranging distance learning with respect to the schools, above all because some households and schools are poorly equipped in terms of technology.
In October and November of 2020 the Priates organized public donations of computers, tablets, and all related accessories at their centers in the regions. Organizations dedicated to distance learning also contributed to distributing the equipment, which was done under the strict terms of the public health guidelines.
Other donations of computers have been organized by nonprofits as well. The ROMEA organization, for example, has distributed more than 80 laptops to Romani high school and college students.
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