04 SES 06 C, Inequality
According to Czech strategic and conceptual documents within the educational policy (MSMT 2001, 2005, 2007, 2011) the inclusive education ensuring that all children and pupils have equal access to quality basic education regardless their family background, race or ethnicity, is an important feature of education aims in the Czech Republic. However the results from the international education assessments such as TIMSS or PISA show that the Czech Republic exhibits a relatively high level of educational inequalities. Variance in reading and mathematics performance in the country is above the OECD average as well as a score point difference associated with one unit increase in the PISA index of economic, social and cultural status (OECD 2010). The differences between schools and the relationship between student achievement and socio-economic background at the school level is one of the highest within OECD countries (e.g. OECD 2007, 2010). At the same time, there are strongly disadvantaged vulnerable groups. Czech Republic has an above average proportion of fifteen years old students who cannot read at the level necessary for solving everyday problems (OECD 2010). The Czech Republic also fails with regard to education of Roma children.
They exhibit low participation in preschool education and are overrepresented in various forms of special education where are they educated according to reduced curricula. Roma children also exhibit high drop-out rates and their participation in ISCED 3A or ISCED 5 education is exceptional.
According to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, in 2007, the Czech Republic violated the right to education for 18 Ostrava Roma that were wrongly assigned to special schools which caused their limited educational opportunities. Based on this judgment, the practice of the Czech Republic has to be changed. The changes, however, have not been very visible so far. The Czech School Inspectorate points to many problems regarding the mechanisms of the assignment of Roma students to special schools or classrooms (CSI 2010).
This paper studies the impact of the implementation of ESF projects on mitigation of educational inequalities and promotion of inclusive education in the Czech Republic. Operational programmes Education for Competitiveness applicable for the whole country except the capital and Prague and Adaptability OP for the capital city adopted measures that should strengthen inclusive components in the Czech educational system. ECOP states that: “A major priority of the educational system is to ensure equal educational opportunities regardless of the type of disadvantage, such as health, economic, social, ethnic, gender or nationality, etc. Is also very important to create conditions for the integration of people with special needs into mainstream education system to ensure the necessary special pedagogical and psychological support services.“An important question is to what extent is the Czech Republic able to utilize ESF money for this purpose. Research shows that in CEE countries an efficient utilization of resources failed due to weak personnel and financial capacities of final beneficiaries together with stakeholders’ unwillingness to plan and act in a strategic way (e.g. Potluka et al. 2010).
CSI. 2010. The annual report for the academic year 2009/2010. Czech school inspectorate: Prague. MEYS. 2001. National Programme for the Development of Education in the Czech Republic. White Paper. Meys: Prague. MEYS. 2005. Early Childcare Concept, Meys: Prague. MEYS. 2007. Long-term Policy Objectives of Education and Development of the Education system. Prague: MEYS. MEYS. 2007. Operational Programme Education for Competitiveness. Prague: MEYS OECD. 2007. PISA 2006. Science competencies for tomorrow´s world. OECD: Paris. OECD. 2010. PISA 2009 Results: Overcoming Social background. Equity in Learning Opportunities and Outcomes. OECD: Paris. Potluka, O. et al. 2010. Impact of the EU Cohesion Policy in the Central Europe. Leipzige Universitätsverlag.
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