Monday, 21 April 2014

Romani children misplaced in special schools

21 September 2012

Prague, Sept 20 (CTK) - A number of Czech Romany children are still enrolled at practical schools that are for lightly mentally retarded children, government human rights commissioner Monika Simunkova said yesterday.

This is still common although five years ago the European Human Rights Court ruled that Romany children are discriminated against in the Czech Republic in their access to education, Simunkova said.

"In their case, objective unpreparedness is mistaken for a mental disorder," she added.

This is taking place also due to the school's aversion to the pupils, pressure by parents from the majority population and sometimes even due to the children's parents who believe that practical school is the best option for their offspring, Simunkova said.

She said a major help from teachers' assistants and helpers could improve the situation.

Simunkova praised the current Education Ministry management for its effort "to push the things farther."

According to the August conclusions by the Czech Schools Inspection, the proportion of Romany children educated as mentally retarded decreased over the past two years, she added.

Before, Romany children made up some 35 percent of the pupils taking part in the educational programme for the retarded, but now it is only 26.4 percent.

Only children diagnosed as being lightly mentally retarded should end up in practical schools, but some children have often been sent there due their bad social background, Simunkova said.

From the last school year on, parents must give their consent to their offspring being enrolled at the practical school.

The ministry is of the view that the schools' readiness to send Romany children to the educational mainstream has increased.

This relates not only to Romany children. Two years ago, special (previous name for practical) schools provided education to 68 percent of the pupils classified as mentally retarded, but now it is only 49 percent.

The decline is due to the regulation valid since the previous school year.

However, it still happens that some parents prefer the practical school, ignoring that their offspring thus lose a chance for a better education and career.

"A survey has revealed that there are still the cases of parents being against their offspring moved to the educational mainstream, although this is recommended by the school consultancy centre," the inspection said.

Due to the parents' request, 38 pupils from 15 inspected schools have been educated in a special regime, although they are healthy, since 2009, it added.

The legislation will fully bring to bear in the new school year because children will only be placed in a practical school for a year and then experts will check whether the decision was right.

In the case of socially disadvantaged pupils, the time was shortened to five months.

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