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Czech President says he meant "only" the mentally disabled should be educated separately

Prague, 25.1.2015 3:53, (ROMEA)
Czech President Miloš Zeman (PHOTO:  David Sedlecký, Wikimedia Commons)
Czech President Miloš Zeman (PHOTO: David Sedlecký, Wikimedia Commons)

After meeting with Czech Education Minister Marcel Chládek (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD), Czech President Miloš Zeman has said that his recent remarks about handicapped children were not about the physically disabled. Chládek said that in their conversation, Zeman clarified that he had primarily meant to refer to moderately severe and profound cases of mental handicap.

"As I have understood Mr President, his remarks were about children who basically do not have what it takes mentally to be in mainstream education and who need special care," the Education Minister said. Jiří Ovčáček, spokesperson for the Office of the President, explained the head of state's words in roughly the same way last week.

During a visit to the Pardubice Region a week ago, Zeman said that educating handicapped and healthy children together is "unfortunate for both". The next day he was the target of a wave of criticism from experts, politicians, and representatives of organizations working with the handicapped.  

The entire debate is said to have arisen over concerns that "practical " and "special" schools will be closed in the Czech Republic. The ministry is planning no such step.  

"The practical and special schools have their place in the Czech system. On the other hand, no children who should be in mainstream education should be separated out of it," the minister said.

In that context, the minister recalled the need for more improvement of the conditions for the high-quality inclusion of handicapped children into mainstream schools. An amendment to the Schools Act now being discussed by the lower house is attempting to legislate that improvement.

"We are preparing conditions to get as many children as possible into the mainstream," Chládek said. The ministry wants to introduce mandatory preschool education next year in order to equalize the differences among children beginning their mandatory primary school attendance.

The measure should aid children from less stimulating family environments in particular. "There are two developmental determinants, two influences on children. One is heredity and one is upbringing," the minister said. 

brf, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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integration, Lidská práva, Menšiny, MŠMT, segregace, Vzdělávání, Zeman



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