Romani children from Czech "practical schools" master English mainstream education
News server ČT24 reports that a study by the British organization Equality has shown that Romani children who attended "practical schools" (previously the "special schools") in the Czech Republic have had no problems attending mainstream elementary schools in England. The organization studied 60 Romani pupils at eight schools throughout England.
The results of the study show the children achieved average results in math, natural sciences and reading at the English elementary schools even though 80 % of them had attended "practical schools" in the Czech Republic. "It is not the case that Romani ethnicity equals some sort of handicap, be it a social handicap or any other kind of handicap," Lucie Fremlová of Equality told Czech Television.
One of the children studied was Dominika Kandráčová, who left the Czech town of Vsetín with her parents and four siblings two years ago. Her parents say she did not get a chance to attend a mainstream Czech school because she had problems with the Czech language and had to attend a "practical school" instead.
In England, however, there was no problem enrolling her into a mainstream elementary school. "We cannot refuse these children this opportunity just because they were born in a different culture, in a different group," the director of a school in the English town of Peterborough explained to Czech Television.
Since 2007, the Czech Education Ministry has reportedly spent almost CZK 600 million on projects to support inclusive education and is now prepared to spend CZK 250 million more. However, most Romani children in the Czech Republic are sill educated at "practical schools" according to a curriculum for the "lightly mentally disabled".
For several years, NGOs and the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg have made the exclusion of Romani children from mainstream education in the Czech Republic the target of harsh criticism. The Czech Government has therefore committed to abolishing the "practical schools" in future.
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