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Parliament greenlights measures to prevent segregation

SPECIAL educational needs due to disability will no longer be legally on par with special education based on a socially disadvantaged background, as parliament approved an amendment to the Education Act which also contains measures against segregation of pupils at schools. 

Illustrative stock photo(Source: SME)

The drafting of the amendment was driven by the fact that the development of a child in a socially-disadvantaged environment does not automatically lead to disability, which is a key factor for assigning the pupil to either a special school or special class, the Education Ministry said.

“This measure unequivocally prevents segregation,” Education Ministry spokesperson Beáta Dupaľová Ksenzsighová said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Among the most criticised changes adopted within the law was, however, the way of appointing schools’ headmasters. Under the new rules, the founder of the school will have the right to reject the candidate proposed by the school council based on selection procedure twice. In the second case, the disagreement will have to be confirmed also by two-fifths majority of the city council.

In such a case, not the school council, but the selection procedure and the city council will decide on the new headmaster, the SITA newswire reported.

The change was authored by Smer MP Ľubomír Petrák, who claims that it will grant equal rights to the schools’  founders who are responsible for financing and operation of the school.

The amendment originally claimed that if the founder is not satisfied with the candidate proposed by the school council, they will send the council a letter in which the founder will explain the reasons for the disagreement. Subsequently a new selection procedure will be announced.

The teachers and trade unions, however, criticise the change and are afraid that the change will put “a political weapon” into the hands of mayors, and that the new headmasters will not be picked based on their abilities, but political alignment, the Sme daily wrote.

“Based on what they agreed on, the democracy in education will be threatened,” head of the school trade unions Pavel Ondek told Sme.

The teachers want to address President Andrej Kiska not to sign the bill, as reported by TASR.

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