How a Broken Economic System Keeps Roma Children in Special Schools

Editor’s note (September 16, 2016): An earlier version of this post did not fully explain the Open Society Foundations’ position on inclusive education. We advocate for the right of all children to learn together. Learn more about the importance of inclusive education.

In the late 1950s, in what was then Communist Czechoslovakia, the government decided that Roma were different from the rest of society, and should therefore be educated separately. These racist assumptions led to today’s two-tiered school system, in which mainstream schools offer quality education to a majority of non-Roma, while Roma children are overrepresented in special schools.

To be sure, no child belongs in a special school of any kind, in the Czech Republic or anywhere else. Every child has the right to quality inclusive education, and when all children are educated together, regardless of their differences, everyone benefits.

The language used to describe special schools has changed over time—about a decade ago, they were renamed “practical schools” so the government could claim it had abolished special education. But school segregation endures, and the mechanisms that enable it are rather complex. Let me tell you about how it works in my own city, Ostrava, the third-largest city in the Czech Republic.

At the age of six, on enrollment day, children take a series of tests in school. At a mainstream, high-quality school, for instance, children might be handed a drawing of a dog, an elephant, a house, and a forest. The questions will ask them things like, “Which animal belongs in the house, and which belongs in the forest? Isn’t the elephant too big for the house? Have you seen an elephant before?”

A month after the tests are administered, Roma parents typically receive a letter saying that their daughter is “too shy,” that their son is “hyperactive,” or that either one of their children is “intellectually inferior” and would be better off in a special school. Sometimes the message is even simpler: “Your child is not accepted.”

There’s an economic aspect to this systemic discrimination that goes beyond simple prejudice. Special schools receive 80 percent more state funding than mainstream schools. This gives teachers in special schools a financial interest in getting Roma and other children channeled into these institutions. A steady flow of students ensures these teachers can keep their jobs, which pay better than the average teaching position in an elementary school.

It’s because of this system that the Czech Republic has the highest proportion of special teachers in Europe, comprising a powerful political lobby. Meanwhile, in mainstream schools, teachers fear that enrolling Roma pupils will lead non-Roma parents to pull their children out of their schools, which could shrink classes and lead to staffing cuts.

But there is a way out. According to the School Act of 2004, enrollment tests are permissible, but they cannot be used to refuse a child enrollment in a particular school. Ultimately, it is up to parents to decide where their children will be enrolled. But most Roma parents are unaware of this and are intimidated by the teachers, so they follow their advice and send their children to special schools.

I joined two other Roma community organizers from Ostrava, Jolana Smarhovycova and Magdalena Karvayova, and together we decided to take a pragmatic approach to changing the status quo. Over the past three years, we have been going door to door to invite Roma parents who have children that are about to turn six to community events at which we explain what they should expect at enrollment days. We inform them about what the tests might look like, and stage a mock enrollment day. Then we remind them that, in the end, they are the ones who decide where their children will go to school. We encourage them to place their children in mainstream schools and to convince other parents to do so, too.

Over the past two years volunteering parents have led enrollment campaigns where they live, offering support to parents and children during the enrollment period, monitoring the enrollment process, and challenging discriminatory behavior from teachers during the tests. Together, we have set up an informal group of Roma parents fighting for equal education named Awen Amenca (Come With Us, in Romani).

This mobilization has paid off. In the past three years, around 200 Roma children were enrolled in mainstream schools—from 34 the first year to over a hundred this year. Moreover, six classes from segregated schools have not opened this September, having been closed down for lack of pupils. And this month, legislation abolishing school classification altogether will be implemented, though whether it will have any meaningful impact on the segregation of Roma children into special schools remains to be seen. Only by dismantling the special education system will the Czech government fulfill its obligation to provide quality inclusive education for all children in mainstream schools.

The government is engaging in blatant discrimination when those with a financial interest in perpetuating systemic segregation are compromising the futures of generations of Roma children. 

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Shameful. How many times does this story have to be repeated? What kind of government, what kind of society can tolerate this kind of economic incentive to be embedded into the public education system? How many years has this been going on....we know, since the 50s, since the DH case, we know, a long time. Thank you for offering support to parents. On the one hand I would like to see every Roma parent benefit from the mock enrolment day, on the other hand I hope the system changes faster than the time necessary to implement a national of a mock enrolment day program. If however 10 years after the European Court's decision of DH we still have to face this, 17 years after the case was filed in the Czech court system, perhaps realistically we should be planning for the long term. We should count on Czech policies to remain unchanged, and mobilize the masses of parents, Roma and non-Roma, using European Union funding to engage them in this important civil society and public policy debate, and provide them the tools necessary to fend for themselves in a system that is rigged against them in favor of special interests. The time for quick wins or short term gains is over. We need long term planning and perseverance.

Dear Sirs,

I am deeply troubled by discrimination shown towards any individual or group. Your campaign is important and I wish you success with it.

However, I am equally troubled by what appears to be an assumption in your article, that students with intellectual/learning disabilities are appropriately segregated in 'special schools' and in receipt of 'low quality' education.

I suspect/hope that this is simply an example of single issue advocacy that fails to consider the harm it may inadvertently cause to others who have their own, equally vital battles to fight. I emphasise that the issue you raise concerning the right to an inclusive education for Roma students must be raised. Nonetheless, please could I ask you to not lose sight of the fact that inclusive education is just that: inclusive of all students. I am certain that OSF is of the same view and that the article's potential risk of perpetuating segregated education of (and assumptions about) students with intellectual disabilities was an oversight.

I reiterate however my support for your own campaign and wish you the success it merits.

Dear Ms Green:

Thank you very much for your support for this campaign and particularly for your insightful comments.

As you correctly point out, OSF's position is that no child belongs in segregated schooling receiving low quality education. Our aim has been to build cross-constituency movements that advocate for quality inclusive education for all children. The original wording in the piece was indeed an oversight, and OSF has since amended its content.

I also wanted to point you to a piece I authored that represents OSF’s position on this issue more clearly, and celebrates the adoption of General Comment No. 4 by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the right of all children to receive quality inclusive education.

In solidarity,

Alison A. Hillman
Senior Program Officer
Human Rights Initiative
Open Society Foundations

Another thing, I wonder how much of this information is available in both English and Czech. I mean this article should be also in Czech to influence voters and other participants in civil society so that they understand this point of view. So much information exists, but how much information is only available in Czech, and how many critical analyses such as this one only exist in English? What type of information exists that could support the opposing view and how can we understand it better, so that what sympathizers to what you write here, can actually speak in the language of those opposed and make them hear this message? Repeating what is obvious to us, for over 17 years, is not having an effect on those who want to maintain the status quo.

Thank you Bill for the interest in this issue. This is the link to Czech version of the article.

Absolutely, Bill, and we can support this also with the good practice emanating from the UK as well as at some of REST's partner schools in CZ and SK.

Thank you for this powerful piece. The treatment of the Roma is an affront to our collective conscience - and a human rights abuse that has been tolerated for too long. The language you use does 'seem' to suggest that segregation on the grounds of disability might be acceptable provided sufficient resources are devoted to special schools. I don't think you intend to say this but it is something I would strongly disagree with. Pumping more resources into segregated (separate) schools to make them more 'equal' does not justify segregation. The odious doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place for any child including those with disabilities. This is reinforced (not established) by the recent General Comment of the UN CRPD Committee. One of the perils of identity-specific approaches is that it sometimes (and usually unintentionally) advances one 'ground' without thinking through whether the advance might come at the cost of cementing into place disadvantages experienced by other 'identities.' This points to the need for greater thinking along the lines of 'inter-sectionality' and taking great care not to suggest (even unwittingly) that the segregation experienced by others might somehow be excused. I know it is unlikely that you intended this but please be mindful of how others who have no problem justifying segregated education for children with disabilities might exploit your language. This works in reverse - advocates for disability have to connect much more actively with passionate advocates like yourself on Roma issues.

Thank you so much for adding your eloquent voice to this conversation, Gerard. I don't know any who could have said it better!

I want to underline and support the revisions to the posting which emphasize the fact that special schools are inferior and that no child, including those with disabilities should be in segregated schools. The Committee of Experts of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recently released a General Comment on Article 24 (The Right to Education) which emphasizes that inclusive education is a human right and that segregation is discriminatory. We are pleased to have OSF as a partner in the defense of these rights in the Czech Republic and around the world.

Connie, OSF is very pleased to have Inclusion International as a partner, in the Czech Republic and beyond!

It is a much more common and complex problem in all former Eastern bloc countries.

Dear Miroslav,

I guess you are from Czech Republic. May I ask you where did you live in CR that you are writing this ? I lived 25 years at Czech Republic (I was born on 1985, Vitkov, Ostrava county). When I was six we didn't have any test as you describe. During first and second class of elementary school the kids were moved to "special schools" or stayed at basic elementary school according to their skills/abilities. The "special school" was for the kids they have a problem with reading or writing, also for problematic kids who didn't behave "nice" - swearing to teachers, bulling other kids, breaking school's property, the kids they rejected education and did anything in the school and not payed any attention (probably this is call by west "hyperactivity"), etc. The point why the kids were sent to "special school" is that the teacher has around 25 kids in the class and can't pay all the time attention only to few kids just for to calm them down or making them shut up when they should be quite and listen. Therefore they are sent to "special schools" where are more specialized teachers with strong nerves. And basically most of those problematic kids were Romas. I remember how Roma kids were bulling me and other pupils, many of them were repeating the class, just because the parents didn't want to let their kids to move to "special school" and didn't matter for them they can't keep up in education with other kids. Some of those Roma kids were even 3 years older than other pupils in the class ! Together with other Roma kids from other classes were making groups, child gangs and were bulling not only pupils but also teachers ! Some of those Roma also didn't make a class deliberately because next year they can study the same class again with their younger friends. They were not interested of education. Once they finish the elementary school most of them they go straight away to job seeker. Nothing to do with discrimination but they know very well from the neighbourhood the better way is staying home and getting benefit. Than having kids and getting child benefit is their best way of living. Czech Republic is very generous to mothers and Romas know very well. This is a reason why Roma parents have 5 and more kids while there is whole family at job seeker and state benefit and the ordinary Czech family has max 2 kids, they can't afford more if they wanna work and have nice live without taking benefits from state. Also the most of Roma persons do not desire get educated or equality. If they get a flat from state, they don't care about it and during years they ruin it. Why they should care if they can say they are discriminated and get another flat - this is how it works. Also have a look how many Roma people are university educated - less than 1%, LESS ! - again nothing to do with discrimination, the states universities are paid by state, for college you will receive state benefit if you are student from "low" family (and also more money benefit if you are good student). High school education - 5% - again everything is paid by state. Back to the elementary school - not Roma kids are discriminated but not Roma kids are ! They are discriminated because the teacher must spent special time with them to calm them down or do more special course with them otherwise they will be called racist if they will complain ! And in the same time "normal" kids is loosing a chance to learn something more cause the teacher is paying attention to the Roma kids ! This article and also the Czech version at must pissed of 99% of the people at Czech Republic. Also Mr Jaime Rodríguez should have visit Czech Republic, Ostrava district by himself ! Dear Miroslav, I do not believe you have the feelings you are writing as this is completely fake story and only propaganda. Sign by your name I guess you have got inspiration in Kocab, haven't you ? For those who are interested - go and see by your eyes, hear by your ears and don't judge by the science -fiction article. I live in UK, London already 5 years. Here I found real racism, xenophobia and ethnic problems, heh, Roma problem in Czech is completely nothing to what I see here. Also this foundation has base in US, NY. They are in NY so fine with their problems that they have to search for troubles in other countries and telling to the world lies ? Sick, sick, sick and shame on you Miroslav ! Btw what about Roma at Slovakia, Romania, how the citizens of those countries are going on with Romas ? Btw not in the 1950s, what a lie just in the beginning of the article, they found out already centuries ago they are very different from our society and if they want to live with us they have to change - during a century nothing change from their side ! Only more discrimination to those they are not Roma ! Search in history, educate yourself.

Dear Mojmir,
Thank you for your comment and I will try to answer your questions.
I was born in Czech Republic and I live in Ostrava.
Every school in Czech Republic conducts school readiness tests. You must remember it. I was the first enrolment day in the school when teachers were asking all sorts of questions to find out if you are ready for school.
In year 2014, nine Roma children went for enrolment in to one school in Ostrava and all those children were well prepared for enrolment and all were pre-tested. What was the disappointment, when all those nine Roma children were not accepted, supposedly they didn´t pass the test and director was sending them to practical (special) school. The parents objected the result and children were tested again. All nine passed the test, but were not enrolled for capacity reason. All nine children went to another good mainstream schools where they have been enrolled and they'll all manage it well.
This is reality and this is the picture how I see how segregation works.
Now your picture: You are trying to say that all Roma children are stupid so for this reason they end up in special schools, they have no respect to authorities, they are „problematic kids who didn´t behave nice“, their only desire is to „deliberately not make the class!“, just to go to the class with another Roma friends and end up on job seekers allowance. And then have 5 children to take more benefits.
You also wrote that the segregation started long time before 1950, because Roma are different from your society.
Thank you for pointing out another practise for discrimination. Being hyperactive is not reason for placement in to special school. This is another abuse of special education for discriminatory reason.
My story is not fake, this is my view from perspective of Czech education system and education system in United Kingdom, where I had lived for 13 years.
Try to answer one simple question. How many Roma children who were attending special schools in Czech Republic or Slovakia and moved to United Kingdom, are placed in to special school in United Kingdom?
I will help you, none of them! All Roma children from Czech Republic and Slovakia are attending mainstream primary schools and then go to study on colleges.
And about your comment about bigger racism and xenophobia in London. You are not the first Czech person who have this sort of feelings. This, what you feel, is not racism, this is end of your feeling of superiority. You are not as superior as you used to feel in Czech Republic. I can really imagine how you feel when some Roma or Asian is your supervisor and you have to obey.
P.S. I don’t know how you worked out that I need any inspiration from Mr. Kocáb? I haven’t met him yet, but I don’t need any inspiration.
These are my feelings, my experiences and my knowledge that I am sharing with people.I am presenting the economic aspect of segregation and systematic discrimination.

Dear Miroslav,
Apology I didn't notice a reply button below your commend so my first replay is just another commend. Also apology I forgot to answer to your question, clarify my view and also disclaim your once again one side story. So here I am.
I can't answer to your question (what you have already answered by yourself) because I know none of Roma people in London or UK. But as I have many British friends they have kids I have already some experiences from British schools. Also my very close friend is a teacher at elementary school in UK. And it is very necessary to point out that UK education system is really very different to CR education system. Or China, Russia, USA etc has the same education system like UK or CR ? How you can compare education in different countries and try to show out that people in one country can't study what they can study in the other country ? Especially if you have a knowledge how big differences are between UK education system and CR. For the others I can point out the main difference is that if you wanna attend a special school in UK you must be mentally or physically ill. And I bet you know this very well.
So if you have lived in UK for 13 years did you study here ? Did you attend an elementary school at CR or at UK ? Do you have even any experiences from Czech schools at all or you just write according to your UK experiences and story from one Czech school ?
What I wrote before is just my memories and experiences. As a kid I was recommended to move to Czech special school as well because of my behavior and hyperactivity. I was saved by my good memory and good counting in Math. Honestly, if I would end up in Czech special school I would finish probably only with basic education and not with university degree I have now. Czech republic has very good education system, during my travelling around the world I have realized that thanks to our education I am very informed about the world and also about its history. And it's very pity that somebody publicly spitting on our education system and preferring equality according to the color of the skin and not according to the abilities. Especially if that person is even citizen of CR, again shame on you.

Dear Miroslav,

Now it's proved that your imagination is bigger than the view of reality. I work and live with people from all around the world. The project leader is from Pakistan, team leader is from China, my boss is from India, most of the people are darker skin, mainly from India. The closest colleague is from Bulgaria. Let's say 50% off my workmates are originally from Britain with ancestors born in UK. I don't see here any discrimination or whatever, everybody on its position deserves it according to his/her knowledge and skills, nothing to do with color of the skin or religion. I really don't have any problem to obey a command from different ethnic group or country (btw also my fiance is from Wales). So that's was very bad guess from you and very wrong try to point out I could be a racist. What I was describing about London is situation on the streets and in the schools, etc, people are behaving differently and that's why I can see a bigger racist and ethnic problem here in UK than in CR. Or did you notice that Brexit happened, what does it says ? Wake up !
I have pointed out "Kocab" because his re-new career started the same way as you are writing, defending minorities by science fiction stories and in the meantime he speaks opposite in the backstage. Because he knows what he says are lies, he see only voters in those people he defends. And I see very big similarity in your stories.
Back to the original problem. I have many friends they are elementary teachers in Czech Republic. I can privately send you their contact details so they can describe you today's situation in the elementary school by their own worlds and why most of Romas kids are ending in the special schools. Also I will inform them about this website so they can write here their everyday experiences. My source of information are not coming only from my memories and experiences but also from the stories of my family, friends and their kids. Also would be useful if you will share the name of the Ostrava school and inform about the accident the appropriate authority instead of writing hard breaking stories. For example there is an article released today at about inspection is visiting a school at Brno because the principal is accused of racism to Romas. So as you can see if the authorities are informed they can act quick and proper.
What you are presenting is one side story spitting filth on Czech people and education system without letting hear the other people to say their experience. I am glad you have published my view of the point, pity is full of grammar mistakes and also it presents me as a completely anti Roma person. Unfortunately it was necessary to dye your one side story. It will probably shock you now but I have also friends in Roma community and my writing is also coming from their talk. I will inform them about your websites as well so they can present their point of view and your science fiction story can be at least colorful, not only black and white. Good luck with propaganda, hopefully you get pay enough that your conscience and mind is clear.

By the way. Czech Republic was proven as most racist country by the reports of OSN, World Bank Amnesty International and others. And also the diagnosses of light mentaldissability is twice as high compare to international average.
But I think that this is ok with you, because you have finshed your education and you don t care about others who were not so lucky, by your comments all Roma children are stupid and rude and they are following their desire to have lots of children and not to work.

I am sorry, but I will criticize the sick system which is segregating Roma children and no matter what academic success of "just white" population this sick system will produce. By your words we cak justify Nazis division into superior and inferior race, just in sake of productivity and academic success.
I will show you another example that Czech education is sick and diagnostics of metal dissability are socialy constructed.

If we take seriously the diagnosis that the children in the Czech Republic get from the government, respectively. regional institutions, we would have had to conclude:

- The percentage of children who are born with mental retardation, decreased between 2009 and 2014 by nearly 40 percent, and the Czech Republic managed to "cure" thousands of children from mental impairment, even though the incidence of mental disability should not change significantly over time;

- That in Usti nad Labem Region are born almost three times more children with mild mental dissability than in the Zlin region, and more than twice more than in the Moravian-Silesian region, even though the incidence of mental disability in the regions should not differ significantly;

- That in some regions of the Czech Republic are born twice more children with mental disabilities than abroad.

Are you still proud of this system of selection? Are you still proud of system where you received great education while someone with darker skin was sent to special school without possibility of further education. No matter if you call it dark skin, or different behaviour or hyperactivity or different culture.
I am not proud of the system that deliberately manipulates with the results of diagnosses and after some judgement D.H. and Others VS Czech Republic in 2007, where Czech Republic lost the case and since then the number of diagnosted children with mental dissability, dropped by 40%.
You are accusing me from llying, but who is lying in reality?
I am sorry but this is my last comment to yourr argumments full of hate, prejudicies and even lies.
I do not expect that I will change your mind.
So I will do my work and my rewards are happy Roma children breaking barriers created by system and people like you. And their brighter future.

Dear Miroslav,

Please, as a public writer you should prove every single claim you are writing about. By the link of website or author, news, etc. What you wrote about those regions I read first time, never heard or seen anything you are writing in your last comment. Therefore please, prove your words otherwise it's just a gossip from angry author who can't stand critics. Anyway we did little research about you and we found out you have study colleague at Ostrava at 1980-1984. Also you are Roma ethnic, what actually explain everything why you are writing this and spitting dirt on Czech education. But explain me how is it possible that so racist country with sick education allowed you Roma study the colleague ? I do not understand now I thought it's impossible as you wrote. Anyway the facts we found about you makes this article only a comedy and I promise I leave you alone now, yes it made me angry in the first time when I was reading your words and thanks for this lesson because now I know that first I should to make research about the author of the article and than think about the article. Also no worries I won't write more about your personal life, everybody can do research by self. Just one last fact - nobody invited your ethnic group to Czech Republic, nobody brought your nation here, your nation arrived by itself and settled down even we tried to move you out many times you just kept going back. According to the history and law by Charles IV Czech people were allowed to shot your ethnic to dead if they were on your property or around as they were known only as common thief and murders (source in history, use simply google, no magic around). Now after centuries you are saying that our system is sick and looking at the skin, after your dark history and in the present your ethnic is still known as a common thief you wonder why? I do not understand why is so much hate between Czech and Romas, just go back from where you came from guys and it will sorted, won't be? Apparently as you mention the color of the skin you are not slavik ethnic and definitely not originally from Czech. So why we should to step down, where is a logic ? Btw few years ago we were pointed as big racist country by Canada and their result was they have opened a border to Roma people. After few months they started to have a problem with our Romas and they closed completely entrance to Canada for all Czech at least for half year and many Romas family were deported back to CR. The same situation between France and Romania (again source google, easy to find). What happened, what went wrong ? So who will be the next, who gonna invite Czech Romas to their country ? If we are so racist with sick system, please, somebody save them..... yep, your expectation is right, you definitely won't change my mind, my life experiences and knowledge would never allowed me anyway. Bye

Just for information of others. I am Roma origin, I am proud that I am Roma despite big prejudicies in Czech majority.
I finished my study, but it was never easy, I had to face those prejudicies and I had to prove that I am twice as good as other children from majority. I wrote already, that other parents were not so strong as my parents and they succumbed to pressure of autorities and moved they children to special schools.
Here is the link to source of my previous informations and numbers of diagnosed Roma children.
This is in czech, but here is the link to full reaserch in english:

Miroslav kemplar, your story really does sound like a personal problem. Right here in the US kids are diagnosed with disabilities & put on 'Head Meds' & placed in special classes because they misbehave. The fact that you're taking issue of a place where you 'used to live' makes it seem as if you're still holding a grudge instead of a true concern for other kids well being. Perhaps you just still need to heal from your personal experiences instead of creating more conflicts? Peace!
BTW: I am gypsie - my mom's family is from Romania. Our Motto is 'We DON'T Steal Children - We Have Our Own'! I am 11 out of 12 kids - we have BIG families :)

I was in Czeckoslovakia as cultural exchange fellow and visited Ostrava, Bruno, Slovakia-Bratislava and Praha. Dr. Milena Introduced me the ROMA class in Charlse Uni. She developed Roma language for University level. I painted nearly 25 postcards on Roma culture. Also supported and visited the ROMA museum at Bruno. Want to add a set of post cards to the museum. I attended the international Roma festival Khamaroh in Prague.

I work with Roma children in the UK. And yes, many of them have Special Educational Needs. And they are very often excluded from school. And many families have a Social Worker or at least a Family Support Worker due to many issues (living conditions, anti-social behaviour, crime, etc). And families usually complain that Social Care is involved with them just because they are Roma so it's racism. And that they are excluded from schools because they are Roma so it's racism again.

Are we going to say that UK is racist as well? Why do Roma people feel to be disadvantaged everywhere they live? Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Spain, France, UK, Ireland, Belgium... Are we going to blame all of these countries? Is there actually a country where Roma people would not be complaining about being disadvantaged?

I am a volunteer teacher at SKPHOPO (Azylovy dum) near Prague and my sole purpose is to prepare the Roma students there, age 4 and up, to be prepared to pass the tests they might be given to enter public, mainstream school. How can I find some examples and the types of questions that are asked? Numbers, colors, shapes, animals and plants in English and Czech are covered by me. Help me to help them. Thank you. Carol Marcum

I have been following developments in Ostrava for nearly 15 years now and despite the best efforts of local NGOs and activists these problems persist precisely because of the institutional and structural problems raised in this piece. My most recent publication explores how government policy to end
segregation is failing, not simply because of poor policy design or mistakes by individuals, but rather
because of institutional racism – the policies, processes and practices which directly and indirectly
sustain the power and privileges enjoyed by the majority (white) population and disadvantage minority (Roma)
I welcome feedback on my work from anyone with an interest in this theme.
Laura Cashman (2016): New label no progress: institutional racism and the
persistent segregation of Romani students in the Czech Republic, Race Ethnicity and Education,
DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2016.1191698

It was a real pleasure to meet you today Miroslav at the Roma Festival Inclusive Education Conference. I am happy to be here in Prague on behalf of Inclusive Education Canada and talk about the need and obligation to include all children in neighbourhood schools, regardless of their background and ability.

Children that learn together, learn to live together. Our world so very much needs diverse collaboration, how better to learn that than as children in the same classrooms and schools?

You are a true leader and an inspiration Miroslav. I am so glad to know you are working with Open Society Foundations. they are an excellent international organization.

I recently authored a research paper providing a legal outline and collaborative implementation framework for inclusive education. This framework follows Human Rights Law, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Rights of the Child and UN and UNESCO policy positions. It can be found at this link on the Inclusion Canada's website:

It was also written in collaboration with ARCH Disability Law Centre in Toronto Canada. That is why it has a heavy reference to disability, however it is relevant to any prohibited ground of discrimination, including the Discrimination of Roma Children.

True Inclusive Education provides EQUALITY of learning and QUALITY of learning. Its dynamic, multi-dimensional, but don't doubt, it is hard work too! But when well supported and implemented well, its well worth it.

I wrote this legal framework for inclusive education as part of my second year of law school last year and from my many years of experience in inclusive education, including my work with Dr. Gordon Porter, Director of Inclusive Education Canada.

I attended my first inclusive education institute directed by Dr. Gordon Porter in 2001. We live in the same province, he was my senior advisor on education when I was Minister of Education.

I am also currently an elected member of our provincial legislature and have been so since 1999 when I was first elected at age 23, one of the youngest in our province's history. I have served as Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development between 2010-2013 and Post Secondary Education, Training and Labour in 2006 and 2014. Responsible during these years for childhood learning, public schools, universities, labour, training and human rights commission.

When I was Minister in New Brunswick I directed an implementation review of Inclusive Education and a 3 year plan to provide support to schools between 2010-2013. I also directed the development of Policy 322 - inclusive education, that aligns our education practices with the CRPD and human rights. I did this with the support and guidance of Dr. Gordon Porter. One big reason why this work was successful was because of a strong partnership with teachers in developing the plan, as well as with the family advocacy organizations and leadership from the government.

The policy can be found here:

This policy received the international Zero Project award in 2016 for best inclusive education policy in the World. I also championed amendments to our education act that eliminated reference to 'special education/needs' and replaced with inclusive language. I also established a round table on bullying in school that lead to introducing anti-bullying legislative amendments to our education act as serious misconduct.

Anyways, long winded I know, but wanted to express my appreciation for your work, that of Open Society Foundation, Awenamenca and everyone else working for a more just world society through inclusive education.

If I can be of any further help please keep in touch.


Jody Carr, MLA/député
New Brunswick CANADA

I work in secondary education here in the UK but my origins are from several Eastern European countries. We have a sizable Roma population at our school (mostly Romanichal) but a few Eastern European Roma too. Very few of them are on my SEN register (2 for mild dyslexia and 3 for ADHD) out of over 50 students. So no, it is NOT true that most Roma children have learning difficulties. Quite a few are in the top two academic sets and in the Gifted group too.The reason why those students go under the radar is because they tend their Roma heritage and due to being pale-skinned circle White in application forms.

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