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July 10, 2020
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Czech Republic: Romani enrolments into first grade exceeding capacity of school in Předlice

Ústí nad Labem, 30.1.2014 7:01, (ROMEA)
The Předlice neighborhood in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic (illustrative photo provided by Konexe, o. s.)
The Předlice neighborhood in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic (illustrative photo provided by Konexe, o. s.)

Martin Košnar, director of the primary school in the Předlice quarter of Ústí nad Labem, says that exponentially more children than usual are enrolling into the first grade there. All of the children enrolled there are of Romani nationality.  

"It's not that the school was established as a Romani one, that fact has developed on the basis of the situation in Předlice," Košnar said. The school will be enrolling 23 children this year, seven of whom will attend a preparatory class and the rest of whom will make up two first-grade cohorts.  

"We are doing our best to keep the pupil-teacher ratio as low as possible so the teachers can take as individual of an approach as possible," Košnar explained. Enrollment usually takes place over two days, and on Tuesday afternoon the parents of more than 10 children were there immediately to sign up.

"I like the individual approach and also the fact that the school offers after-school activities," said Angela Badiová, who brought her granddaughter and son to the first-grade enrollment. The school offers more Czech language instruction, teaching assistants in the classrooms, and focuses on recreational activities in addition to instruction.     

The after-school activities include crafts, dance, music and sports, and the children have a building where they can enjoy themselves and play games daily. "What we offer is not that broad, we only do after-school activities when we raise money for them from grants or subsidies, but everything we offer is taken advantage of," Košnar said, adding that most of the after-school activities are offered completely free of charge for pupils of the school.   

Crime prevention assistants also work at the school. "They watch over the children to make sure they don't get into trouble on the way to or going home from school, and they also visit troubled families," Deputy Police Director Jan Novotný said.

Statistics show that using such assistants in Předlice has worked. "Ever since the assistants have been in the field the statistics show no children committing misdemeanors," Novotný said.

According to Romana Macová, spokesperson for the Ústí nad Labem town hall, approximately 1 150 children will be enrolling into first grade this year citywide.  "That's an estimate, the final number can be influenced by migration. There is enough capacity in the first-grade classes we have opened," Macová said.   

The town hall says there will be room in other schools for children who can't get into the school in their catchment area. As in previous years, the town has made CZK 2 000 available per first-grader so schools can purchase supplies for all of them, including notebooks and textbooks. 

ČTK, voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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