CZECH REPUBLIC. Similarities of the good practice with the experience of the Czech Republic

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1 Promoting social inclusion of children in a disadvantaged rural environment Tomas Habart People in Need Viktor Piorecky Agency for Social Inclusion in Excluded Roma Localities A brief assessment of the possible relevance of the good practice to Czech Republic, similarities and differences of the good practice with the Czech experience and potential transferability of the good practice to the Czech Republic In this chapter, we have linked together more topics dealing with the similar issues, which were originally divided into three questions. Similarities of the good practice with the experience of the Czech Republic Generally, there are more similarities than differences in comparison of Hungarian good practice with experience of the Czech Republic. Here is a list of those most important. Generally, the need of its implementation is accepted on theoretical level, but it is very hard to enforce it into practice. Duration of project implementation For achieving a good impact it is necessary to design the programme as long-term with sufficient preparatory phase. Multisectoral cooperation including involvement of local participants The cooperation of different authorities (state authorities, agencies, municipalities, NGOs, police, etc.) is crucial. For designing a high-quality project, it is needed to make a needs assessment in the locality and involve people with different kind of local experience into the design process. The implementers have to avoid the participant s feeling, that the project is something mandatory from the capital city. Comprehensive approach In this context a multi-sectoral comprehensive approach is needed to be reached. It must follow the overall vision agreed by main political parties, which must be developed into a concrete longterm strategy. It should be supported by a service system of care about the employees and experts including supervision and regular education. This approach has not been developed sufficiently in the Czech Republic yet.

2 Sustainability Involvement of local participants is crucial for the sustainability of outcomes. Local people will continue their activities only in case they see the sense and when they can identify with it. Of course, another crucial thing is to help them to find additional funding. PR and dissemination of achievements It is highly welcomed to communicate continuously the successes to the public through as many ways as possible. It is important to show to the public that results are concrete, that it is something, what can improve their concrete situations step by step. Concrete ways of communication should be selected based on the local context and conditions. It can be some public meeting with local authorities or some important guests (ministry...), discussion roundtable, public event supported by leisure time activity (e.g. concert, children attraction..), it can be a clear message of some text in the printed media, distribution of flyers, expert conference etc. Concrete project activities Sure Start Children Houses Although the paper does not specify, how exactly the work with children is done, systematic work with pre-school children is very important. Model constituted on daily basis and on active involvement of parents has big potential for the prevention of children's drop out of standard elementary schools. There are only exceptional projects like this in Czech Republic and it should be definitely promoted. Integration in public education, development of public education The offer of training opportunities is too wide nowadays in the Czech Republic and most of the teachers refuse it, as they have already passed many different workshops. Also the administrative duties grow constantly and teachers are over-tasked. Positive feedback comes from different networking workshops, where teachers can share their experience and challenge with others, which is used as kind of supervision. Youth sub-programme Focus on target groups of teenagers with educational difficulties or of those who have dropped out is very important. There is similar experience in the Czech Republic that the offer of attractive free time activities may have positive impacts. IT development IT programmes are suitable supplemental activities to different youth clubs, community centres etc. There is the good experience in the Czech Republic as well. Social work In the Czech Republic social work is provided by an amount of NGOs and municipalities. It is definitely one of the most effective instruments for prevention and solution of social exclusion. Similarly to the Hungarian experience, among the leading problems are those with loans and debts, specifically the topic of usury.

3 Employment There is also good experience with providing complex labour assistance to clients from socially excluded localities. Housing Several projects for improving housing situations were successfully implemented in the Czech Republic as well, mostly in urban environments. Social economy Similarly to the Hungarian experience, the development of the social economy in the Czech Republic is still at the beginning. Differences of the good practice with the experience of the Czech Republic and its potential transferability Cooperation with the Academic sphere Direct involvement of the Hungarian Academy of science in the implementation of filed projects seems to be beneficial and should be promoted in the Czech Republic. The cooperation among project implementers and the academic sphere exists in the Czech Republic more on individual bases and on the theoretical level, e.g. in preparing of documents, strategies and in theoretical discussions about different concepts. Political support Based on information from the paper, there is stronger political support in Hungary than in the Czech Republic. (viz.: following text) Health sub-programme Although health care is free of charge in the Czech Republic, children from socially excluded environments are often in worse health conditions than others. Systematical attitude to this problem would be welcomed. The school coordinators The brief description reminds of a position which used to be in the Czech Republic known before as Roma pedagogical assistant. These assistants should have supported the teacher during the lessons, but more often they provided kind of social work in families and built bridges between problematic families and school. This concept has been left and instead of it a concept of the assistant as pedagogical worker is promoted, who cooperates with teachers in the education of children with special needs. The social work with parents is usually ensured by NGOs.

4 The translation of national strategies concerning child poverty into local action The bridge between national strategies and local action suffers similar problems in our country as was described in the Host Country Paper. National strategies are in general not supported by important legislative changes and sufficient financial support (especially in the field of education), the culture of administration on all levels is not comfortable with the idea of inclusion, moreover, the political representation (mainly local) is pushed to anti-inclusive stands by latently xenophobic public opinion. In this climate, the strategic documents often end up as formal, unenforceable. These factors work together against successful local implementation of national strategies into local action. Three years ago the Agency for Social Inclusion in Excluded Roma Localities was established within the Office of Government. The approach of the Agency is very similar to the one of the Hungarian Academy of Science in discussed practice and faces all the above mentioned pitfalls. Some experiences show, that on the one side the local actors dealing with social exclusion are able to deliver positive activities (in limited extend), as on the other side, the national authorities slowly change their cultures. However, in the space in-between this connection becomes interrupted. A note of any important questions about the policy that are being raised and debated in the Czech Republic Many topics related to Roma inclusion are of course debated in the Czech Republic. Regarding the theme of this Peer Review, we have selected one specific topic, which is debated a lot in Czech Republic nowadays: Transformation of practical schools in the Czech Republic School reform The new school law valid since 2005 initiated overall changes in the educational system in the Czech Republic. One of them was the abolishment of former special schools (called zvláštní školy, resp. pomocné školy). Unfortunately, no deeper change except their re-labelling (základní školy praktické, resp. školy speciální) has happened. These schools are still in the same buildings, with the same teachers and students and they still follow a substandard curriculum, which significantly lowers the future chances of the pupils to obtain well paid jobs. A crucial moment happened in 2007 in the context of litigation D.H. and Others v. Czech Republic: In the Czech city of Ostrava, Roma children were 27 times more likely to be placed in "special schools" for the mentally disabled than non-roma children. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that this pattern of segregation violated non-discrimination protections in the European Convention on Human Rights. Despite this landmark decision, there has been little change in the Czech Republic: the "special schools" have been renamed but still follow the same substandard curriculum; Roma continue to be assigned to these schools in disproportionate

5 numbers; and there has been little attempt to change the attitudes of teachers and parents. The process of integration has barely begun. (http://www.soros.org/initiatives/justice/litigation/czechrepublic) Practical schools and diagnostic methods As a result of the court s finding, the Ministry of Education initiated a process of desegregation of the educational system. Several analyses were elaborated and discussion about the reform has started. Practical schools are established for mentally disabled children, who can be moved in only with signed agreement of their parents. Crucial question is, to what extent the failing in psychological tests can be caused by the fact that the child has been living in a socio-culturally different environment. There is a suspicion of the fact that some symptoms, which result from the child s life in a different environment, can be misinterpret as symptoms of mental retardation. One of the crucial discussions should be focused on the validity of diagnostic methods and instruments. Strategies on how to overcome structural problems related to housing conditions, lack of employment for parents and poor incomes. Since the authorities have limited budgets, the extent of social housing stays limited in our country. The last two years brought to debate the concept of so called supported housing, where the system is more complex and motivates the people involved to start to participate in economic life. Nevertheless, supported housing seems to be the solution for regions with relatively normal level of job offer on the side of employers. Another concept which starts to be used in our country is the social economy. Its development continues rather slowly, but according to the experience of other European countries, the social economy can be a successful bottom-up strategy for disadvantaged people as well as the alternative to state employment policies and private sector instability. How to address possible negative social impacts of out-migration in rural areas? Migration from rural to urban areas is not an issue in Czech Republic nowadays. Of course, there is similar trend as in many countries worldwide, that people move from villages to towns, but in last centuries the Czech Republic (specifically north-west Bohemia and north Moravia and Salesia) has become a strongly industrialised country. There are not many parts of the country, where agriculture plays a more important role and even there strong negative social impacts of moving people to towns cannot be seen. Moreover, Czech people are still very fixed on their place of birth and according to different public opinion researches they are not willing to move to other places because of job opportunities etc. From the point of view of the social exclusion topic there is a visible opposite trend moving out from the downtowns to the suburbs. Thus, the important issue is the creation of new deprived localities in urban and suburban areas. According to GAC research from there were more than 300 socially excluded localities (with inhabitants, mostly Roma) all around the country. These localities were caused mostly in the last

6 decade due to different reasons and through mechanisms in towns with strong Roma population (mostly in areas with heavy industry, with high rates of unemployment caused by the transformation process after the fall of communism). They are often placed in border parts of towns and occasionally in the villages or as separated buildings in the country side. It is estimated, that the situation deteriorates and the number of localities as well as its inhabitants is still growing. How to promote cultural change within public authorities in order to break the intergenerational transmission of poverty and social exclusion and to be able to better address the needs of ethnic (particularly Roma) and other excluded groups? Poverty and social exclusion is a vicious cycle caused by synergy of more negative reasons, which are serious problems even if they appear individually. Generally, it is crucial to ensure, that the system rules are equal for all participants (educational system, housing, health care etc.). This is necessary for gaining of confidence of excluded people. And confidence is crucial moment for promoting their motivation and incitation of their participation. Creating a transparent environment seems to be a necessary step, which must be started on all levels of state governance. There has to be clear legislation, which will prevent any kind of discrimination. It must be declared that all public authority representatives are bound by explicit laws that equal service for all citizens is required and that breaking of the rules will be punished. Simultaneously, it is highly welcome to persuade the wide public about this fact, as public support makes the cultural change within public authorities much easier. Another important thing is to ensure continuance of all activities against social exclusion. This is not possible without a long-term strategy based on a vision shared by the main political parties. Broad kind of activities supported by the state should influence in the long-term and in synergy. Unfortunately, the experience from the Czech Republic shows, that it is almost impossible to make any kind of compromise among different political parties and to set common goals, which would be followed independently from election results. The reality is absolutely opposite after each parliament, regional or local elections there are large personnel changes of many positions in public administration on all the levels. Strategies (if there are some) of previous establishments are often stopped and replaced by new ones. How to ensure active participation of target groups (e.g. Roma population)? There are only few ways how to make target groups actively participate. Generally, there are social work, motivation and good example. Our experience shows that only a good example of a relative, community member, VIP person etc., together with motivation factors (as is the housing in supported housing projects) and high standard social work can ensure active participation of

7 the target group. Unfortunately, this seems to be very difficult in our context, while we can face strong resignation among the poor Roma families. Extremely important is the communication among all the stakeholders, authorities etc. Target groups and their representatives have to be sure that the activities were sufficiently discussed with them and that they could take part in the design. How to ensure the sustainability of funding of projects addressing child poverty and promoting Roma inclusion? Because the inclusion strategies require sustainable long-term application, the sustainability of funding of projects addressing child poverty should be ideally ensured by public (EU, state and regional) budgets. But this is the field of political decision on budgetary priorities. We believe that there is a strong potential in the development of the social economy sector. These organisations can function both directions - as the provider of services as well as the provider of jobs, which means preventing the situation of exclusion.

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