EI has expressed concern at the resignation of more than 50 experts from a Czech Education Ministry Working Group which was supposed to design a plan to improve disadvantaged children’s education.
The experts have taken their unprecedented action because they allege that the Czech Education Minister for Public Affairs, Josef Dobeš, has paid insufficient attention to taking concrete steps to support disabled pupils and Roma pupils.
In their resignation statement the experts noted: “Under the existing leadership of the Education Ministry, it is becoming more and more obvious that inclusive education will remain mere rhetoric.” The experts have ruled out further collaboration with the Education Ministry unless its approach radically changes.
The experts’ working group was established in the spring of 2010 to help implement a National Action Plan on Inclusive Education (NAPIV). However, since Dobeš took office, the group has met only once. Moreover, the minister deactivated the department that was designing the plan for including children with difficulties into mainstream education.
As many as 30 per cent of Roma children end up enrolling in 'practical' – previously known as 'special' – schools, often due to their poor social backgrounds. According to the NAPIV, the number of teaching assistants should be increased in elementary schools, and a system established to define what materials and support a child has a right to in relation to the degree of his or her disability.
The Czech Republic has been internationally criticised for segregating children, especially in a 2007 judgment by the European Court for Human Rights, which found the Czech Republic had violated the rights of 18 Roma children by unjustifiably enrolling them in 'special schools'.
EI urges national authorities to guarantee all children have access to quality education, providing teachers with appropriate professional training and learners with special needs with appropriate tools.