Inclusive education is not yet a common practice in the Czech Republic. Compared to other European countries, we hold the unflattering 6th worst position in the proportion of children educated outside mainstream education. Counselling facilities, schools and some experts/professionals often put pressure on parents to place their children with special educational needs (SEN) in special classes and schools. This has a number of negative consequences. Children are less likely to achieve higher education and cannot simply enter the labour market. This raises the cost of supporting them in adulthood. Their opportunities to meet peers are very limited. And those are, due to separate education, deprived of contact with all kinds of differences; it is difficult for them to learn tolerance, respect and coexistence. In the end, segregation leads to social tension between various population groups and reduces social cohesion. Moreover, the segregation of Roma children in education strengthens their frequent social exclusion and makes it difficult for them to break free from the vicious circle of poverty.
You can read more about the effects of the pro-inclusive reform in studies based on research we have done in recent years:
Cesty romských žáků ke vzdělávání: Dopady inkluzivní reformy (Roma Children Pathways to Education: Effects of the Pro-Inclusive Reform), Jak na systémové změny ve vzdělávání (How to Achieve Systemic Changes in Education)
Systém v ne-systému aneb inkluze rok poté (System in Non-System or Inclusion One Year Later)
ONE YEAR LATER – research results presenting the effects of the pro-inclusive education reform
School is a place where children spend a great part of their time. Research shows that inclusive learning is beneficial for all. Healthy children not only have better educational results, but also learn to cooperate, communicate and have more respect for differences. Children with SEN are motivated to perform better, they make friends in the place where they live and receive education that will help them improve their position in the labour market. That’s why we at OSF Prague seek to make it possible for all children to go to school together without distinction – be it children with disabilities, Roma children or gifted children, for that matter.
What We Do:
- we promote quality legislation and monitor its implementation in practice.
- we provide grants:
- we help schools and kindergartens introduce inclusive education for all children – for example, by enabling them to have Roma school assistants, learn, meet and inspire each other
- we also help parents support and consult each other, and choose the best educational path for their child
- we focus on systemic changes
- we link relevant stakeholders in education
- we pass on our field experience to the responsible persons
- we support schools in creating inclusive conditions
- we ensure that the Czech Republic implements its international commitments in the area of inclusive education
- we provide scholarships for secondary school and university students
Impact of our work:
- we have managed to put through an amendment to the Education Act which has brought funding to support children with special needs – according to 72% of headmasters, lack of funding is no longer an obstacle to the education of these children
- more and more teachers and headmasters know how to work in an inclusive way and how to integrate pupils with different needs into their classes
- Teachers and headmasters work more closely with each other, exchanging experience, looking for inspiration abroad and using new concepts and methods of work
- more and more people from state administration, schools and parents are actively interested in inclusive education of their children, promoting and defending it
- we also improve the qualifications of parents and schools so that they can provide feedback to the state administration (both at local and national levels) and thus contribute to promoting the necessary changes or prevent undesirable changes
- we are successful in creating new partnerships that have a better chance in promoting changes in the education system
- the proportion of children with SEN educated in mainstream schools has increased to ⅔ – there is still room for improvement, though
The initiatives we support:
- Česká odborná společnost pro inkluzivní vzdělávání (ČOSIV, Czech Society for Inclusive Education) brings together non-profit organizations, representatives of academia, schools, parents and young people with SEN who believe that inclusive education is the way to a cohesive and prosperous society. ČOSIV helps us promote changes necessary for higher quality and fairness in education so that each school has conditions for education of all children from its catchment area, including children with SEN and gifted children. At the same time, it brings interesting methods and procedures to schools and creates a safe climate for all.
- The organization Rodiče za inkluzi (Parents for Inclusion) is a voluntary union of parents who believe in the meaningfulness, usefulness and feasibility of inclusive education for children. Thanks to our support, it provides parents with support, information and counselling to be true partners in constructive solutions for situations related to their children’s education.
- The focus of EDUin’s work, as well as of our support, are communication and advocacy activities. EDUin supports the transformation of education in the Czech Republic by systematically informing the public about it. At the same time, it seeks to make sure that decision-makers (officials and politicians) see education as a priority issue, not only before elections, but continuously, and that they receive relevant information on the current state of affairs as well as proposals for suitable solutions.
- In the long term, we also support programmes and activities that help schools create favourable conditions and a safe environment for education of all children without distinction. We encourage schools associated in the Liga komunitních škol (League of Community Schools) to cooperate and share good practice examples in order to create a model for inclusive and community education and put it through/promote it in the Czech education system. We also support the campaign of the Česká středoškolská unie (Czech High School Students Union) – High School Revolution, through which students seek to shift the focus of teaching more on the pupil and tailor it to his/her needs. Thanks to our support the AISIS organisation is implementing in many schools the Minimalisation of Bullying programme which helps significantly reduce the occurrence and seriousness of bullying among children. We have supported the Cyril Mooney School in publishing a series of value education textbooks. These textbooks encourage children to develop a system of their own values, which gives them internal integrity and the ability to make the right decisions. We have also supported kindergartens in Ostrava to develop their activities in improving and maintaining pre-school attendance of children from socially disadvantaged localities.