US Ambassador to Czech Republic gives Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award to director of primary school that includes Roma
The Trmice Primary School under Ms Gottfriedová's leadership is managing to successfully work with the concept of inclusive education, according to which pupils with various educational needs should attend the same school together. In Trmice, which is considered a socially excluded locality, the school is also managing to work with the Romani minority so that all children are included together in a single collective at the school.
Ambassador Schapiro called the Trmice Primary School a model of inclusive education when bestowing the award. "This is a place that is a home for children from all environments, a place where the children visibly love to learn, and a place where the children are doing brilliant work," the Ambassador said.
During a visit to the school, Ambassador Schapiro said he became convinced that it is teaching how to perceive diversity as an advantage, not as a barrier. He then expressed appreciation for Ms Gottfriedová as a brilliant leader of the team that runs the school.
For her part, Ms Gottfriedová said the Trmice Primary School works with children who are living with serious disabilities, with the children of foreign nationals, with children of Romani origin, with gifted pupils, and with children with learning disorders. The award ceremony was held at the ambassador's residence and was attended by the members of the Trmice Primary School music group, Trmikus, and other guests.
During the course of the evening the children performed several songs, including "GoldenEye" from the 1995 James Bond film. After the award was given, the approximately 30 guests watched a short film about the Trmice school.
Ambassador Schapiro visited the Trmice Primary School this year at the beginning of March together with UK Ambassador Jan Thompson and Norwegian Ambassador Siri Ellen Sletner. The diplomats all expressed their appreciation at the time for both the school and the work of a local nonprofit organization, Romano Jasnica, which works with Romani children of all ages.
More than one-third of the pupils at the Trmice Primary School are Romani and Ms Gottfriedová says there is practically no prejudice or racism at the school. The Czech News Agency reports that critics of the concept of inclusive education in the Czech Republic warn that when children with various needs are educated all together, none of the needs of any of the pupils are met.
Ms Gottfriedová received the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award on the eve of International Human Rights Day (10 December). Previously the award has been given to, for example, human rights lawyer Klára Kalibová, the ROMEA organization, the current Public Defender of Rights Anna Šabatová, director of the Czech branch of Transparency International David Ondráčka, the founder of the human rights film festival One World Igor Blaževič, and the weekly RESPEKT.
Ambassador Schapiro noted that the Czech Republic and the United States of America share a common tradition of respect for human rights and the struggle to see such rights upheld. He also reminded those gathered that Alice Garrigue Masaryk, the daughter of Czechoslovakia's first President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, was engaged in the fight for women's rights and was a founding member of the Czechoslovak Red Cross.
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