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Patrik Banga: Inclusion? Definitely yes!

1.3.2016 19:43
Journalist Patrik Banga (SOURCE: Czech Television)
Journalist Patrik Banga (SOURCE: Czech Television)

Beginning with the new school year this fall, a decree on inclusive education will take effect in the Czech Republic. The nation, as is traditional, is screaming that "this is a law for Gypsies", while teachers are screaming that the schools will be degraded.

I finally have the feeling that some people are beginning to see the light. In other words, it has finally clicked with the elites how many children we have in this country who have specific disorders.

Previously my own thought process used to be the same as theirs. In an interview I gave some time ago (maybe here for a blogger, I can't recall), I said that if my child's progress was being impeded at school by slower children, then I would enroll my child somewhere else.

I live at a time when, as a parent, I can exercise my choice. However, today I also have something else that I didn't have when I gave that interview.

Today I have experience with children who are suffering from a specific disorder. I know what kind of hell the parents of such children are experiencing here, and that it is precisely this decree on inclusive education that will aid with resolving their situations.

When your child has a disorder, it's no bed of roses. I daresay that the vast majority of parents whose children are absolutely healthy cannot imagine what it's like.

Picture it. A child is born to you who is slower from a very young age.

Your child walks slowly, speaks slowly, and learns slowly. You take your child to doctors, to speech therapists, and ultimately, in the first grade, without even examining your child, they tell you that your child has "LMD" (this is the modern trend today, "LMD" can mean anything and everything) and that your child should go to a special class.

OK, you enroll your child into a special class where the other children are like him, and everyone is satisfied. However, that special class only lasts for three years and then you have to choose.

You can either enroll your child into a "special school" (ahem - these don't exist anymore today, remember) where half of the children should not even be there, a school that serves as a warehouse for Romani children whom nobody wants at a "normal" primary school, because the "ROM diagnosis" means they should automatically attend a special class or school (see, for example, the town of Kladno, where almost all Romani children were put into one school) and where your child couldn't get a quality education if you were to pay them with gold - or you can enroll your child into a mainstream primary school, from which he will have a hope of getting somewhere once he finishes. However, your child has Asperger's.

That is what you have learned after yet another year of running to doctors before ultimately encountering someone who actually dedicates themselves to children. Your child is intelligent - he's just also slow.

It is frequently a superhuman effort for your child to write down the material he is supposed to learn. To remember the important information conveyed during several minutes of explanation by a teacher is frequently all but impossible for him.

However, you know that if your child will be given the time, he will learn the material just fine. What now?

You are a parent who wants the best for your child. You begin to look for an assistant for him.

This should be a holy woman who will, in exchange for filthy lucre, help your child as well as the other three or four in need of aid that are currently in these classes. However, the school does not have money for her.

Nobody will give her money. The assistant, even though she is a holy woman, has to eat too.

God forbid, she might even have to pay rent. What now?

You have two more options. The first is to stop working yourself and become your child's assistant - which means you, too, will have no money.

The other option is to pay for the assistant yourself, together with other parents who need one, which is complicated. You do this, and lo and behold, your child is able to function.

Your child gets better grades and understands the material. The others stop cursing him as a retard.

He doesn't have to go to special school because he can normally handle mainstream school. I think that is precisely what inclusive education is about.

Children who have a disability are supposed to get a chance. I have read many interviews with teachers, and with Czech Education Minister Valachová, but I have yet to read an interview with a parent who has a child disabled in this way.

Who among you - among us - knows any parents who do not want the very best for their child? As for all this bullshit about this decree being a "pro-Gypsy law", that is a chapter in and of itself, and I hope this decree will change that too.

Original reprinted with permission from the author's blog on iDNES.cz.

Patrik Banga, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Inkluzivní vzdělávání, segregace, školství, Vzdělávání



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