Michal Mižigár: Inclusion is an opportunity for a better life
Last month we marked the ninth anniversary of the victorious "D.H." judgment at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, in which 18 Romani people from Ostrava who had been unjustifiably reassigned to what were then called "special schools" saw justice done and defended their right to a quality education. I would like to share a story with you about why it is important for all children to have equal access to education.
My dear friend of many years, Bedřich, did not have the kind of good luck that I did. As a child, he was more lively than others during lower primary school, so the teacher invited his parents to school and convinced them that "special school" would be the best solution for their son.
Bedřich had no disabilities - he was a healthy child. His parents had attended "special school" under the previous regime, and they were not at all aware of the gravity of their decision, which closed the gates on a succesful life for their son.
Today Bedřich is 28, he has two children, and he is a very efficient person with excellent communications and organizational capabilities, good critical thinking skills, and fluent knowledge of three languages. Despite those qualities, he cannot find employment, I dare say because he is a Romani man in the Czech Republic, and unfortunately also a graduate of "special school".
His parents had no inkling that education would be significant for him. We don't even know why his teacher arrived at the conclusion she did, whether she wanted to get rid of a pupil who was making her uncomfortable and so "rewarded" him for that for the rest of his life, or whether there were other reasons that led to her decision of which we may never learn.
I admire Bedřich for never speaking ill of his teacher. We can see from his story, though, that not just Romani children, but all who come from socially exlcuded environments need aid in order to stand their ground in the environment of the Czech schools.
The failure of a pupil in school is not a sign of stupidity, but rather a sign that something in that pupil's life is not functioning, is not in order. Aid for these pupils is important because it will be returned back to all of society, which is created by all of us.
I regret that many generations of Romani pupils have never received a quality education. They did not get the chance to escape the vicious circle of their poverty, socially excluded environment, and stigmatized Romani identity, to successfully make their way into the labor market and integrate into society.
Unfortunately, most Romani people have been graduates of the "special schools". The hope of a better life and a better starting point for their children is still miles away from them.
I don't want to end this negatively - the consolation remains that during the last 10 years, the number of Romani people studying at secondary schools and universities has grown. It's not possible to discuss exact numbers, but speculation is that there are several hundred Romani secondary school students and dozens of college students.
That is why I would welcome data collection that would provide us with information about the actual situation of Roma in education. Then we could reflect on how to aid such pupils.
I am convinced that if Bedřich had attended school today, when inclusion has been launched, he would not have to be reassigned to "special school" and his life might look absolutely differently. We should all want equal conditions for all children and we should do the same for the rest of us - all of society!
- Tabloid interview with son of former Czech President about inclusive education features untruths
- Commentary: Corporal punishment at the "inclusive school"
- Czech study finds publication for teachers defended status quo and opposed inclusion
- Czech Govt Agency for Social Inclusion says amendments to consumer loan law will help combat exclusion
- Czech NGO whose head spreads hatred against Muslims and refugees will continue to work with Govt Agency for Social Inclusion
- Czech Govt Agency for Social Inclusion begins work with mayor who keeps attacking Roma
- Czech Republic: Canadian education expert says only an inclusive school is a really good school
- Czech Govt Agency for Social Inclusion reviews local group working with Romani children after its head attacks the HateFree Culture initiative
- Czech Govt Agency for Social Inclusion's dilemma: What to do with haters of "HateFree" who work with Romani children?
- Czech President says he vetoed education amendment because of inclusion
- Commentary: Czech tabloid quotes Romani man as opposing inclusive education, other Romani representatives respond
- Czech Spolu (Together) coalition: Education is the path to better integration of Roma, "inadaptables" don't want to conform
- Czech activist on 8 April: the Romani position in society is deteriorating, zero results from the financing invested
- Czech Republic: Further action needed to integrate Roma children in schools and prevent discrimination against LGBTI persons
- Czech national audit says schools were not prepared for inclusion and local governments are not drawing funds for it in socially excluded localities
- European Commission VP Věra Jourová: Not enough was done during the last decade for Roma, the EC is launching a new 10-year plan
- Czech Education Ministry wants to end funding for assistants to thousands of disabled children, expert says this will ruin inclusive education
- Emil Voráč: In the Czech Republic, nonprofits able to integrate Roma are often blocked from financing
- Czech Republic's Vietnamese community gives free face masks and refreshments to emergency responders, firefighters, police and others
- Czech EdMin proposes new system to harmonize differences among educational advisory centers' recommendations
- EU Fundamental Rights Agency to publish results of research with Roma and Travellers in six EU Member States
- Michal Miko: Czech ministries are boycotting experts' attempts to introduce social housing
- European Parliamentary delegation plans to visit Romani settlements in Slovakia