Czech sociologists: Economic crisis contributed to rising exclusion, but society is mainly to blame
Why has there been growth recently in the number of excluded localities and the number of people living in them? Czech MP Ivan Gabal, who is also a sociologist, and his colleague from the GAC company, Karel Čada, have contributed their analysis of the issue to the Czech daily Hospodářské noviny.
The authors remind readers of the results of the GAC survey of excluded localities released this year: The number of ghettos during the last 10 years has almost doubled and as many as 50 000 more people are living in them. "The growing trend was undoubtedly influenced by the economic crisis and the growth in the number of localities and our excluded fellow citizens can partially be atrributed to the fact that we have identified socially excluded localities in more detail in this study. However, there is no question that the dominant influence can be ascribed to the arrangement, effectiveness and sense of purpose of public policies," they write.
In other words, there are certainly external factors at play here and also more sensitive sociological instruments are being used now. Despite this, we ourselves are still mainly unequivocally to blame for this situation.
Czech education heading in the opposite direction to the rest of the developed world
The authors state that one of the main problems influencing social exclusion is education. In this area, the Czech education system is failing: The generation that grew up in ghettos after 1989 has achieved a worse education than their parents' generation.
"This violates the education paradigm of the modern world in which the educational level of attainment increases from generation to generation," the authors state. They add that the problem of the Czech schools is illustrated by another basic finding of research: Of the group of comparably economically advanced countries participating in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Czech Republic is one of the countries where children dislike school the most.
State has no interest in quality projects
The authors also remind readers that children's success in school is complicated by the frequency with which they move house, which is determined by their parents' need to find affordable housing. "Currently in housing policy there is the slight hope of better times ahead. The Government has adopted a social housing concept and some local authorities are independently seeking models for providing social housing. Experience, however, commands us not to rejoice prematurely. A couple of years ago the Education Ministry was well on its way before all of their reform efforts were ended by the actions of the prevous two ministers," they note.
According to the authors, no reform program exists in the area of employment whatsoever. There is also no interest at a statewide level in the promising projects of some nonprofit organizations, municipalities or schools.
"The policies of the state are cultivated through comfortable, established administrative routine. Those who attempt to exceed the limits of these routines and administrative certainties do not last long in their posts. The Agency for Social Inclusion, which was developing so promisingly, also ultimately succumbed to this practice after it focused too much on work in the field and less on work in the bureaucracy. State policies are not just disconnected from local experiences, but also from examples of good practice abroad. That situation then reliably prevents the designers of policies from introducing innovative, well-studied instruments for problem-solving," the authors write.
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