New Czech Education Minister to focus on which diagnoses do not necessitate inclusive education
The new Czech Education Minister, Robert Plaga, says that because educating children together inclusively concerns tens of thousands of children in the Czech Republic, he does not intend to cancel the recently-introduced programs designed for that approach. "It makes sense to discuss to what degree those children should be provided support, or, for example, how to most effectively get them the support they need," he said in an interview for news server iHNED.cz.
The minister said he would be investigating which types of diagnoses do not necessitate the integration of pupils into mainstream education. Within the framework of inclusive education, he wants to focus on which types of diagnoses mean a child's integration into the mainstream will not succeed.
If, in his view, inclusion fails for some types of diagnoses, a serious debate should be held about whether it is in the best interests of such children to attend mainstream schools. This year the state will be providing another CZK 5 billion [EUR 197 million] for teaching assistants or the purchase of teaching aides for inclusion.
"The ministry sends money for assistants according to the prescribed norms, but in the field the assistants are being paid less than those norms. That is one of the questions we must resolve. The money doesn't disappear, the school manages it, but it does not go to the teaching assistant. Also, as far as money for buying teaching aides goes, we should verify whether the ministry hit the nail on the head with its original estimates," the minister said.
When asked how he plans to address the apparent lack of financing for teaching assistants prescribed to pupils on the basis of educational counseling center decisions, the minister said: "I have been informed that in many cases the counseling centers do not approach this as if the assistant is meant to be shared by the class, but consider the assistant as serving an individual pupil. That goes against the very point of having an assistant to the teacher. I am not saying this is possible for all diagnoses, some do require the assistant to serve an individual pupil, but I also know of cases where the assistant cares for the pupil and then functions very well within the framework of the entire class too."
Plaga is a member of the ANO movement. He began to work at the Education Ministry three years ago as a political deputy in charge of the section on higher education, research and science.
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