6.6 Social inclusion through education and training
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Reducing inequalities in education was one of the three principal goals of the Strategy for Education Policy of the Czech Republic until 2020 as well as it is one of two strategic objectives of the Education Strategy 2030+.
For educational support, there is also a strong legislative Framework from early child care up to higher education – for details see the overview at Eurydice CZ-17.
In general, there is a principle of inclusion of children and young people with special educational needs to mainstream education. Only in special, diagnosticated cases children/young people can attend special schools with specialized support and reduced or adapted curricula.
Pupils/students with special needs should get legitimate support and more measures are in place to choose as Teaching assistants, Diagnosing and assessing children in school counselling facilities etc.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports aim to find an effective sharing model for staff within the education, social services and health care departments who work with learners with SEN. This would ensure that all learners’ needs are met and that state budget funds are effectively spent on professional (teaching) positions in cases and activities where they are needed.
In 2016, the Czech Republic implemented major amendments to the Education Act of 2015 (Act No. 82/2015 Coll.), which significantly modified the rules for education, especially regarding inclusion. These subsidiary regulations include the following:
• Decree No. 27/2016 Coll., on the education of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and talented pupils
• Decree No. 197/2016 Coll., which amends Decree No. 72/2005 Coll., on the provision of counselling services and facilities in schools, and certain other decrees.
In 2019 these have been amended by the Decree No. 248/2019 Coll., on the education of pupils with special educational needs, with the main aim to lower administrative burden to schools and support diagnostic services. At the same time, misuse practices should have been abolished. The state Pedagogy Inspectorate found that many of the measures have been used in a wrong and less effective way, e.g. instead of the support, the pedagogy assistant provided educated instead of the teacher and similar. The novelisation was praised and criticized at the same time, as it was also connected with the aim to lower the budget for the inclusive measures, which was argued by the effectiveness of those public investments.
The Amendment to the Education Act No. 82/2015 Coll. guarantees that alternative communication and/or sign language will be available for those pupils who cannot use oral language. The Act on Sign Language, which was approved in 1998 and amended in 2008, legally recognises and highlights the importance of sign language for the education of pupils with a hearing impairment. It also recognises and highlights the use of other alternative communication systems, including specific systems of communication for people who are deaf and blind. The Act guarantees deaf children’s right to education by means of sign language and guarantees access to sign language interpretation for upper-secondary learners and sign language courses for parents of deaf children. The use of sign language in the education of pupils with hearing impairment was already enshrined in the previous Education Act No. 29/1984 Coll. And its amendments.
Other relevant policy documents:
National Plan of Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities 2021 – 2025 (Národní plán podpory rovných příležitostí pro osoby se zdravotním postižením na období 2021–2025)
Long-Term National Strategy on Development in Education 2019 – 2023 (DZ ČR 2019-2023, MŠMT ČR)
Subsidy programmes and subventions to enhance social inclusion of young people through education
State support for Higher Education Study inclusion
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports provides several kinds of subsidies every year from budget line II 'Social Affairs of Students' based on the Act no. 111/1998 Sb. On Higher Education Institutions (HEI). Students fulfilling the criteria apply at their HEI and the Institution claims it from the Ministry, however, it needs to prove the claim. Students need to study their first HEI programme accredited in the Czech Republic in order to be eligible for specific support they need to meet other criteria (e.g. for boarding to have permanent residence in another city). The kinds of support and the funding in years 2014-2016 can be seen in the table below.
|Subsidy of the Ministry of Education within the budget line 'Social Affairs of Students' (in Thousands CZK)|
Scholarships for PhD students
|1 062 360||1 041 277||1 009 678|
Grants for student accommodation and boarding
|155 937||147 527||135 45|
Contribution to social scholarships of public HEI
|38 964||33 582||34 221|
Grants for social scholarships for private HEI
|1 551||1 240||1 084|
Contribution to accommodation scholarships of public HEI
|816 497||776 966||731 081|
Grants for accommodation scholarships for students from private HEI
|28 879||26 446||25 072|
|Source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports|
Subsidies to HEI for the study of students with specific needs
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports provides subsidies to HEI for the study of students with specific needs every year from the budget line IV 'International cooperation and others' every year. Among students with special needs are included students with disabilities, visual, hearing, and mobility impairments, students with a specific learning disorder, with an autism spectrum disorder and persons with other mental disorder or illness, including neartistic neurodevelopment disorders, e.g. disturbed by language, speech and other communication skills, or suffering from a chronic somatic disease preventing standard ways of performing objective study obligations, or calling for organisational measures from the side of the school. The financial support in 2014 was in the amount of 46 600 000 CZK, in both 2015 and 2016 the amount of 51 300 000 CZK was provided.
Elementary school social inclusion subsidy programmes:
'Promoting school catering for elementary school pupils, whose family has been in a long-lasting unfavourable financial situation'
The purpose of this grant scheme is to support school catering for elementary school pupils whose family has been in a poor financial situation for a long time. It is not only about ensuring a regular diet for pupils but also about improving their conditions of stay at school. The side effects also include helping the family so that the pupil has the opportunity to take part in out-of-school activities which are usually organized after the lunchtime. Pupils are thus not excluded from the classroom because of not participating in extracurricular activities or the lunch, which in the Czech Republic is usually a common activity of the class collective.
'Support for gifted pupils at primary and secondary schools'
A Grant Program aims to support out-of-school education for gifted pupils, especially through new forms provided by organisers, primarily from universities, public research institutions, non-profit organisations and leisure centres using lecturers and leading experts from various technical and scientific industries. The allocation of the fund is 10 million CZK per year (ca 400 000 EUR).
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports runs the following programmes enhancing social inclusion of young people to education:
Development program Compensatory teaching aids for pupils with disabilities
Subsidy Programme for the field of Prevention
Subsidy Programme to integrate the Roma minority
Development program on Equipping school counselling facilities with diagnostic tools
A development program to support school psychologists and special education teachers in schools and methodologists - specialists in school counselling facilities.
Funding of teacher assistants for children, pupils and students with disabilities and for children, pupils and students with social disadvantage
Social cohesion and equal opportunities
The reform of the educational system towards more inclusiveness described above is also viewed as a tool for strengthening social cohesion in society, as described in the MEYS’ statement on this matter.
Apparently, the most closely connected to this issue in practice is the FEP system, as each FEP also takes into consideration the areas of social cohesion and principle of equal opportunities in many different ways, e.g. the FEP for general secondary schools accentuates these areas within the topics 'The human and the society' (pages 38-39), 'Personality and social education' (pages 66-69), 'Education on thinking in a European and global context' (pages 69-73) a 'Multicultural education' (pages 73-75)
In mid-2017, a special call for applications for subventions from the ESF was realized to build school capacities in the priority of equal access to pre-school, elementary and secondary education with an allocation of 700 000 000 CZK (27 500 000 EUR). One of the activities supported were also the Competencies for a democratic culture according to the Council of Europe Framework on competencies.
Since 2017 the process of FEP transformation started and it should be fully developed and implemented by 2026.