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Poll: Most Czechs not against inclusion at school

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Prague, March 23 (CTK) – Most Czechs or 53 percent are not opposed to the integration of disabled children in regular schools if certain conditions are met, according to a poll conducted by the EDUin, Socialbareks and Median agencies that its authors presented at a press conference on Thursday.

Some 32 percent of the polled are strong opponents of school inclusion and 15 percent its strong supporters.

Negative stances on inclusion are primarily caused by people’s fear, the pollsters said.

Some respondents fear that the inclusion of disabled children is not well prepared and secured in terms of personnel. The poll shows that even the people who generally agree with inclusion share these fears.

Most of the polled support inclusion if there were up to 20 children in a school class. Moreover, most people consider the consent of the disabled children’s parents and a psychologist to inclusion a necessary condition, along with assistants being present in such classes.

The respondents have also expressed fears that teachers are not prepared for teaching problematic children. Some are of the view that the inclusion will harm the whole Czech education system.

“This is rather abstract. We understand this as that the education system was considered good in the past, now it works worse according to some people and they fear that it will further worsen,” Bob Kartous, one of the pollsters, said.

The integration of children with mental disorders and Romany children enjoys the lowest support, while the highest share of people is for the inclusion of “socially disadvantaged children,” which is a rather unclear definition.

The highest number of sharp opponents of the disabled children’s inclusion is among young people aged from 18 to 29 years, while the respondents’ education does not play a decisive role in their stances on inclusion.

There are opinion differences between followers of various political parties. The highest number of strong opponents of inclusion is among supporters of President Milos Zeman, the conservative left wing and xenophobic parties, said the authors of the poll conducted on 1027 people over 18 from the whole Czech Republic.

An amendment to the school law, which took effect last September, introduces new inclusion rules. It stirred up stormy debates before the passage, in which Zeman stood up against it.

Its advocates point out that the legislation, among others, improves support for the disabled children who are attending regular schools already.

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