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June 28, 2022



Romani children in the Czech Republic still frequently assessed as mentally disabled and educated separately

17.1.2020 13:46
The headlines of the Czech media in February 2016 unequivocally reported that the Czech School Inspection had
The headlines of the Czech media in February 2016 unequivocally reported that the Czech School Inspection had "found no discrimination" at a primary school in the town of Krásná Lípa, even though the Inspection's own report said no such thing. Was this erroneous journalism just due to a lack of professionalism, or was it an intentional manipulation of the facts? (Collage:

Romani children in Czech primary schools are still being frequently educated according to curriculum designed for those with "mild mental disability". Among the pupils whose curriculum is modified because of their allegedly lower intelligence, 29 % are Romani.

In the total population of children attending primary schools, the proportion of Roma is about 3.7 %. This information comes from a report on the fulfillment of the plan for measures meant to contribute to including Romani children in mainstream schools.

The data have not significantly changed during the last year. According to qualified estimates, 34 767 Romani boys and girls attended primary schools in the Czech Republic during the previous school year.

The European Court of Human Rights condemned the Czech Republic in 2007 for discriminating against 18 Romani children and thereby violating their rights when the state arranged for their education in what were then called the "special schools" on the basis of their ethnicity. Since 2016, new rules have been in effect in the Czech Republic for educating all children together in mainstream schools.

The Education Ministry annually submits a report to the Government on its progress in this area. The cabinet has already been made familiar with the data for last year.

This same information, including statistics, is regularly sent by the ministry to the Council of Europe, which oversees implementation of the European Court of Human Rights judgments. According to the expert estimates provided in the report for the Government, the instruction of 4 403 Romani children was adjusted during the last school year on the grounds of mental disability.

That number is equivalent to 12.66 % of all Romani schoolchildren. During the school year before this last one, 12.73 % of Romani schoolchildren, or 4 290 individuals, were educated in that way on that basis.

The proportion, therefore, has almost not changed. Most recently, Romani children comprised about 29 % of the pupils whose curricula were adapted on the grounds that they are mildly retarded.

The year prior to that, the proportion of Romani children so educated was 29.5 %. While about 1 060 Romani children did enroll into mainstream schools during the year, according to the report that is "predominantly" explicable by the fact that the overall population of school-aged children increased.

In the Czech Republic, according to the report, there were 4 169 primary schools in operation. A total of 940 928 children were educated in them.

Romani children therefore represent 3.7 % of all schoolchildren. In 2017 they represented 3.6 %.

Among different regions, however, there are significant differences. The biggest proportion of Romani pupils last year went to school in the Ústecký Region, where almost every eighth pupil was a Romani boy or girl.

In Prague, by contrast, just every 100th pupil was Romani. More than one-fourth of Romani pupils attended school in the Ústecký Region and roughly one-fifth attended school in the Moravian-Silesian Region.

The report points out that while in the past children identified as mildly mentally disabled were given curricula where the level of what was required of them was reduced across the board, since 2016 their instruction is meant to have been adapted according to their individual needs. The old curriculum plans will definitively stop being used when this year's ninth-graders graduate.

Last year the old curriculum was still being used to educate 953 Romani children. A total of 3 450 Romani schoolchildren were being taught according to curriculum adapted for mental disability according to the new regulations allowing for greater individualization.

According to last year's analysis by the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, Romani children are still frequently taught separately in all-Romani classes or all-Romani schools even after the introduction of the new measures. Although Romani children are no longer being reassigned to the so-called "special schools", their exclusion as socially disadvantaged pupils persists.

The Agency reported that schools attended by more Romani children are considered to be of a lesser quality than schools with few to no Romani children. About one-tenth of the population of the Czech Republic is in favor of greater inclusion of Romani children into mainstream classes, but not even all Romani parents support the idea.

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