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Intentional misdiagnosis of intellectual disability in the Czech Republic – a case study [Romea]

During the past year, the Otevřená společnost, o.p.s. organization has performed a survey of lower primary education in the Czech Republic. That survey especially emphasized the way instructors view the education of majority-society boys and girls as compared to Romani boys and girls.

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That survey identified the introduction of culturally-sensitive didactic methods into instruction as being one necessity. Another topic that came to the foreground during the survey was the diagnosis of children’s intellectual capacities, which forms the basis of their being recommended for enrollment into the “practical primary schools”.

Romani studies scholar Markéta Hajská has explored this topic by analyzing a case study. News server Romea.cz is publishing her work here in full translation.

Diagnosis:  Mild Mental Retardation

The question of assigning Romani children into the “practical primary schools” has been a hot topic for some time now. The Czech Republic has long been criticized by activists, international institutions and nonprofit organizations for the fact that a disproportionately high percentage of Romani children (almost one-third of them) end up in “practical schools” with diagnoses of Mild Mental Disability or Mild Mental Retardation.

Given the importance attributed to the value of education in our society, these children are subsequently disadvantaged in their adult lives, not just on the labor market, but also across a broad spectrum of social areas. The system for diagnosing mental disability is to blame.

Many critics and experts agree that the disproportionately high percentage of Romani children in the “practical primary schools” is especially based on the problematic system of diagnosing these children. Some of the instruments used for these diagnoses have been called culturally biased.

A survey performed by the Czech Professional Society for Inclusive Education in 2014, led by Mgr. Jan Klusáček, came to the conclusion that mental disability is disproportionately identified as a diagnostic outcome in various regions of the Czech Republic. The conclusions of that survey and other findings by experts demonstrate that the system for diagnosing mental disability, which in the Czech Republic occupies an absolutely fundamental place in the process of recommending children for assignment to different types of schools, is problematic in many respects and less objective than has generally been presumed.

Amanda:  Diagnosis “made to order” for a practical primary school

We can identify the various factors responsible for keeping Romani children in the “practical primary schools”. On the one hand, we encounter the conviction of some Romani parents that their child will do better in such a school because they believe the teachers there will take a better approach toward them than mainstream teachers would, or because the child’s friends, relatives and siblings also attend that specific “practical school”.

These attitudes among Romani parents can sometimes be motivated by the actions of school staffs themselves. Higher enrollments guarantee the operation of any school facility.

The “practical primary schools” use different methods and strategies to maintain their enrollments. One of those methods can be, for example, taking advantage of the system for diagnosing mental disability in children.

The following is an example of a Romani family from Liberec, the true story of a girl we will call “Amanda”. When these events occurred in 2013, she was living with her mother and stepfather in a residential hotel in Liberec. See full article here.

Source: Romea.cz

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