Last month we highlighted the ongoing plight faced by Roma children when it comes to securing a fair education in the Czech Republic.

We weren’t optimistic. According to a study by sociologist Ivan Gabal, Roma children are approximately eight times more likely to leave primary education early than the national average, while Roma students in general are routinely placed in special schools despite their academic ability.

All this was made even more shameful when you considered that in 2007 the European Court for Human Rights actually ruled that this type of segregation was unlawful and should be addressed immediately.

Four years later there appears to be glimmer of hope, however, with Minister Dobeš recently making changes to the Education Ministry’s provisions for special needs students, giving parents more flexibility over where and how their children are educated.

While this is undoubtedly a move in the right direction, a recent study by the same ministry hints that problems with segregation could in fact be much wider, affecting those with physical and learning difficulties in the country.

According to the report, a mere 0.33 percent of those enrolled on higher education courses in the Czech Republic have disabilities, an extremely low figure given that 3 percent of Czechs between the ages of 15 and 29 are classed as handicapped according to the Czech Statistical Office.

We can only hope that the authorities don’t wait for another intervention before starting to put things right.

Andrew Fenwick

Andrew Fenwick is multimedia editor at Transitions Online. Email: andrew.fenwick@tol.org

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