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HN: Lack of empathy may disintegrate Czech society

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Prague, Feb 24 (CTK) – As long as Czechs are not capable of perceiving those “who slow down our clever children” as people like themselves, society will be more and more divided until it disintegrates into small hate isles and closed to the world, Petr Fischer wrote in Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Wednesday.

He writes that the fight against inclusion of children with some handicaps in regular classes disregards the purpose of the school that is to teach empathy for what is common, not exclusion and the creation of ghettos.

Fischer comments on the ongoing debate on whether children with mental and physical disabilities and some Romanies with learning problems should be included in regular schools.

Fischer writes that a new coalition, a coalition against inclusive education, has emerged on the Czech political scene. It brings together the rightist opposition Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement, TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats (ODS), the leftist opposition Communists (KSCM), the populist Dawn and President Milos Zeman.

The coalition claims that inclusion in education is harmful because it slows down both the faster children and the slower children, who would receive a better care in specialist facilities, Fischer writes.

The mere fact that democratic parties mingle with Communist ideology and the ideological mud of Tomio Okamura’s movement (Dawn) should be a warning to Petr Gazdik (STAN), Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) and Petr Fiala (ODS), Fischer writes.

He writes that Fiala claimed the opposite about inclusion four years ago and when he was education minister (2012-23), he supported the drafting of a law that the Chamber of Deputies passed later.

Fischer writes that it seems as if the false threat of Muslims – an enemy Czech society was lacking and that is why it had to be created – gave vent to the worst that people were storing within themselves for decades.

The debate on inclusive education, which was once democratically passed by people’s representatives (Chamber of Deputies), but which is now, all of a sudden, looked upon as something dangerous, is perverse, Fischer writes.

He writes that it focuses on technical details, while the meaning escapes.

The new coalition, which is “surprisingly” supported by up to 80 percent of Czechs, makes the impression as if school existed to provide education and as if it were to secure that clever children will be even more clever, while those who are not clever, should leave for other institutions that will help them reach minimal cleverness better than the “normal” school could, Fischer writes.

However, this is a huge mistake. School is no machine for education, but a place where all – teachers, children, parents – jointly learn to be in society and to create society. That is why the integrating principle, not exclusion and inclusion which all sufficiently enjoy in older age, are important at elementary schools, Fischer writes.

He writes that the big growth in socially excluded localities in the country proves that the principle of exclusion is proper to this society.

The major purpose of school is to cultivate social imagination and empathy, which are the forces that hold society together, which are the forces that even the classics of unscrupulous economic egotism, such as Adam Smith, consider to be of fundamental importance, Fischer writes.

The new mixture of Czech politics in the form of an anti-inclusive coalition has pushed aside social empathy. It dehumanises society and that is why it is capable of turning specific persons into the maladjusted, slow, retarded, Fischer writes.

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